South Padre Island "Leaning Tower" Slated for
Foundation problems can be particularly tricky on coastal
barrier islands, where potentially extreme structural loads are
applied to a potentially unstable sandy subgrade. On South
Padre Island in Texas, developer Ocean Tower LP has found out
the hard way exactly what can go wrong: The company's 31-story
condominium tower has sunk nearly 16 inches into the earth.
Uneven settlement of the structure's core and its attached
garages has created structural cracks, and the tower now leans
visibly. The tower has gone from a landmark of luxury to an
object of ridicule, dubbed by locals the "Leaning Tower of
South Padre Island."
Now, the New York Times reports, the tower has a rendezvous
with destruction — demolition has been scheduled for
Sinking Texas Gulf Coast Condos to Be Demolished," by the
Associated Press). Ocean Tower LP is suing its two engineering
firms, Raba-Kistner Engineering and Consulting of San Antonio
and structural engineers Datum Engineers of Austin and Dallas.
The tower's builder, Coastal Constructors (no connection to the
Coastal Connection), has been dropped from the suit. Developer
Tony Domit, reports the Associated Press, has told potential
buyers that their deposits will be returned.
Lawyers for the engineering firms say they believe they can
mount a solid legal and factual defense. For the less
technically minded, however, the tower offers a chance for a
good laugh at somebody else's expense. For a man-on-the-street
view of the problem, it's hard to beat this
video. (Caution: Colorful Language; Viewer Discretion