Vie Lofts completes million-dollar renovation


Chase Rogers

Vie Lofts, located at 817 Chestnut St., was evacuated Sept. 20, 2019, in response to safety concerns about the building's stability, temporarily displacing 162 occupants.

Jakob Rodriguez, Editor-In-Chief

Vie Lofts has completed a million-dollar renovation, following concerns of the building’s structural integrity in September.

Vie Management, stated that renovations to the building had been in the works since March of 2019, following the buildings acquisition. Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of Vie Management Derrick Milam said San Marcos Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner’s mandatory evacuation order of Vie Lofts, 817 Chestnut St., on Sept. 20, 2019 came as a complete surprise to the firm.

“We were as surprised as most by the concerns that were raised by the city about the building…we had to go through a review of all violations (of) the structural integrity of the building before we closed (finalized the acquisition of the property),” Milam said. “Fortunately, the city worked very closely with us and we were able to get the building open in a week after they had (evacuated) the building and since then have been able to work with the city to implement the changes (that) we wanted to make. The building is actually a much better building than at the time of acquisition.”

Milam reported the city still expressed concern over the structural integrity of the building despite the acquisition by Vie Management on Jan. 2019. The residents were evacuated Sept. 20, 2019; City of San Marcos officials on the scene stated concern for building safety began to arise after cracking walls in the parking garage and stairwells.

“The city showed up and expressed a concern about some of the cement that had fallen off of the stairwell,” Milam said. “However, that was just the fronting of the stairwell, not the core of the stairwell. (Affected cement) had not compromised the ability to use those stairs or the integrity of the building.”

Milam said he knew the city was concerned about the retaining wall, but between his knowledge of the situation and a structural engineer’s opinion of the building’s integrity, the firm understood the concrete falling off in the stairwell was not affecting the structural integrity of the building and did not warrant a need to evacuate the building.

Vie Lofts officials found alternative lodging for residents at The Avenue at San Marcos, 1111 Avalon Ave., and at Embassy Suites, 1001 E McCarty Lane. Sept. 27, the evacuation order was lifted and a portion of the building was issued a temporary certificate of occupancy. Remaining displaced residents were moved in Dec. 9, 2019 following a detailed structural analysis of the building.

Per a city request, Unified Building Sciences & Engineering, Inc. was contacted to evaluate the property to determine the scope of structural damage. According to UBSE’s report, the damage was related to upward movement in the ground-floor slab. The report obtained by The University Star indicated the damaged walls on levels B2 and B3 can be demolished and rebuilt according to specified plans.

The walls of the stairwells were constructed to have the CMUs fill the space between the floor slab and the structural beam of the next floor. UBSE found vertical cracks and spalling—the result of water entering brick, concrete or natural stone—stairwell A on levels B2 and B3, with the damage being more severe on the lowest level. According to Vie Management the damage on B2 and B3 were demolished and rebuilt and approved by the city.

Milam said the original building developer defaulted on the project and the previous owners of the building had a series of interactions with the city where they had things that they had to fix and repair. However, according to Vie Management, when the firm acquired the property, there were zero violations which would need repair.

“Obviously, these are items that were identified before we had acquired the building and fixed by the previous owner,” Milam said. “Unfortunately, these were things we were unaware of at the time of closing. We have now addressed that and completed all the changes the previous owner should have completed.”

According to a statement from the city, Vie Lofts is still operating under a temporary certificate of occupancy as they work toward a solution for elevator repairs. Their goal for obtaining the final certificate of occupancy is March 26, 2020, and the city will consider an extension if additional time is required for the elevator since it is their only outstanding remaining item.

The statement from the city also said the remodel work in the clubhouse, study lounge and reception area was completed on Dec. 26, 2019.

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