Des Moines condo association not taking risks with leaking building despite costs


DES MOINES, IOWA — The sudden tragic collapse of a 15-story Miami condominium last week has many condo residents across the country re-thinking the safety of their buildings – including here in Des Moines.

At least 14 people are dead are more than 140 are still missing from the Champlain Towers South building after it collapsed last Friday in Florida. The building was reportedly suffering serious damage to its concrete foundation. A multi-million dollar repair project was expected to finally begin later this year, more than three years after the problem was discovered. Cost concerns by residents of the Florida condo reportedly delayed the repair work.

Residents of West Grand Towers in Des Moines are currently living in a construction zone as a drainage problem is repaired before it leads to catastrophic failure. The building was constructed in 1963. It’s drainage system doesn’t include a membrane to protect the foundation from leaves. In 2019 the condo association hired a structural engineer to help them diagnose and correct the problem.

The work is expensive, but residents say it is well worth it to know they are safe – especially in light of the collapse of the Miami-area condo. “

Residents started to experience leaks on the 10th floor more than a decade ago. Slowly over time you just keep repairing them. Finally you get to a point where you say ‘Wait, these repairs seem to just be ongoing. Maybe there is something bigger?,” says board member Kent Zimmerman about the growing issue at their building which is now being remediated. The Champlain Towers condo reportedly had been dealing with a leaking pool and seeping sea water in the basement of their parking garage for years.

The cost of the renovations at West Grand Condos is around one-million-dollars. Construction is expected to be finished by this fall.

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