Report: Problems with collapsed wall uncovered after 2020 Derecho

Davenport apartment building collapse, 324 Main St.
Davenport apartment building collapse, 324 Main St.(KWQC)
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 7:02 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Damage to the Hotel Davenport apartment complex’s western wall began to deteriorate after the 2020 August Derecho, according to records our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team received through an open records request.

Records show an additional inspection in December 2020 found the outer layer of bricks in the western face of the wall missing, failing, and areas further deteriorating after an initial assessment after the storm. Video shows the apartment complex’s western wall was the first to fail and collapse, which ended up killing three people.

“It is my opinion that a good portion of the deterioration can be spot tuck-pointed to seal the wall back up but there are a few areas that are completely failing since the original inspection and the bricks will need to be removed and replaced,” said Christopher Townsend of Townsend Engineering.

Records from the city of Davenport show the former building owner, Waukee Investments I LLC, being issued for a building permit to repair the brick facade on the building’s east, north and south sides the day after the engineering report. Those records show the building passed an inspection while the west side repairs were partially complete.

According to the Scott County Asessor’s Office, Waukee Investments I, LLC sold the building to Davenport Hotel LLC for $4.1 Million. A review of building permits after the sale shows Davenport Hotel LLC filed for numerous building permits for various construction projects worth more than $100,000 around a two-year period.

Most of those projects were for various plumping and electrical fixes until a structural masonry repairs were needed on the building’s western wall after another engineer’s report in February 2023. Records from the City of Davenport show the repair work was completed in May 2023.

Days after the work was completed, records show a new report from an engineer said several large patches of bricks were separating from the building and appeared ready to fall imminently. Records from the City of Davenport show another building permit was issued the following day to replace the brick days before the building collapsed.

Alan Jeary, who said he helped investigate the cause of a collapse of an apartment building in the United Kingdom, said it is difficult for him to assign blame for the collapse currently. But, he said people not actively fixing observed issues with the building is a problem.

“If you find something else is wrong then it is cheaper to fix it quickly rather than wait for the problem to develop into a big one, which is always more expensive,” Jeary said.