By Marianne Kyriakos
The Washington Post
Condominium owners at Colecroft Station, a luxury complex in Alexandria, have won an $860,000 settlement with developers of the project on a dispute over major structural defects.
Owners of the 156 units had been seeking $1.1 million in damages. The case was settled in mid June, the day before a scheduled trial in Alexandria Circuit Court.
The developers of the five-year old complex were Alexandria A&A L.P. and general partner Berkley Corp. Their insurance company agreed to pay the settlement.
“I think it was an excellent settlement, we got substantially what we were seeking,” said Kenneth G. Roth, the lead attorney for the Colecroft Station Condominium Association. “I’m quite pleased. Whether we could have gotten more at trial, we’ll never know, but it’s a done deal at this point. My client won’t have to worry about appeals, and the costs of going forward with trial.”
Roth, who worked on the case for a year, said the Virginia Condominium Act provides a warranty against structural defects.
He credited consulting engineering Joseph Shuffleton, who identified the nature and extent of the problems, and the “commitment” of the condominium association’s board. “They were prepared to fight the case and to spend what was necessary in terms of lawyers and experts,” Roth said.
The plaintiff’s attorney said developers often have financial advantage in such disputes. “And typically, [the developers] figure if they drag it out long enough, as they did in this one, the association will succumb,” Roth said.
Attorney Beau Brincefield, who was hired by the plaintiffs to assist in the case, said the problems included defective balconies, water leaks from a central plaza into a 220 car underground garage and roofing defects.
“We are very much relieved, the settlement met the board members’ requirements,” said Walter Pierce, president of the five member condominium association board. “The settlement will cover many of the repairs. It will not cover all of the repairs,” the cost of some of which will be borne over future years’ operating budgets.
The developer’s attorney, Fairfax lawyer Edward J. Longosz, called the resolution “a good settlement for all involved.” Longosz said A&A “denied liability, but the settlement provided a vehicle for which the unit owners’ association had a method to correct what they perceived to be problems later with the project.
“A&A remains dedicated to the project and its residents,” Longosz said. “It is one of the few dedicated builders and developers who stood behind its project 100 percent, and endeavored to correct any perceived problems, and worked with the unit owners association . . . as well as its lawyers to find a successful resolution for both sides.”
Longosz said there will be subsequent litigation and claims made directly by A&A to potential third parties who performed the construction work, including contractors and sub-contractors.
Steve Sherman, broker owner of Century 21 Sherman Properties Inc. of Alexandria, said recent sales at the complex have ranged from $100,000 for a one bedroom, one bath unit to $204,000 for a two-master-bedroom penthouse with vaulted ceiling, marble fireplace and two garage spaces.
“These are very attractive luxury condominiums here. They are close in, a short walk to the Braddock Road Metro station,” Sherman said.
The “American Railroad style” complex at the intersection of East Braddock Road and North West Street was developed on a seven acre site that had been vacant since the city tore down a public housing project in the early 1980s. A&A first built town houses on five acres, with the other two acres zoned commercial. But because of a glut in commercial space, A&A was above to combine street level retail and office space and three mid rise condominium buildings into one project.