Bloomington apartment complex faces fines from city

UPDATE:

Bloomington officials say they have completed their inspection of Evolve Bloomington, and have issued temporary occupancy permits. The city said any outstanding issues with the complex must be brought into compliance no later than October 30, 2018.

ORIGINAL STORY:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University students living at a brand-new apartment complex in Bloomington are waiting to find out if they’ll have to move out, after city officials say building developers allowed people to move in before those apartments passed city safety inspections.

The complex in question, Evolve Bloomington, has more than 250 units. Legally, any dwelling like this has to get permits before anyone moves in; however, the city said that never happened. Since Saturday, the complex has been fined $2,500 each day.

“They do not have a valid occupancy permit through our department so we’re out here to make sure that there are no life-safety issues involved,” said Doris Sims, director of the Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development Department.

Students living there said the building is not ready to be lived in.

“It was literal chaos,” said IU sophomore Haily Baran. “My dad and my mom and I just like lugged everything up the steps because the elevators don’t work.”

Simms said a situation like this is not common.

“It has happened in the past but rarely do we have developers who move in tenants prior to getting the units inspected,” said Sims.

And based on inspectors’ findings, there is the chance a notice to vacate could be issued—meaning everyone who’s moved in, would have to move out.

“I don’t know where we’ll go, because it’s a lot of people too,” said Baran. “It’s like where are you going to put everybody?”

Sims hopes that situation can be averted.

“We’re hoping it doesn’t come to that,” said Sims. “I did have a chance to go in several of the units earlier this morning with inspectors, and all the units seem to be in pretty good shape, at least the units that I have been in.”

The apartment’s developer believes they did have the right to move people in based on approval from Monroe County. While county records show Monroe County did give the company approval, there is a caveat contained in that permit that has to be met: satisfactory final inspection by Bloomington City Housing and Neighborhood Development.

“What the developer did not do was make sure that the units had a proper occupancy permit from the HAND department before moving students in,” said Sims.

The developer of the complex, CA Ventures, issued this statement:

"The Monroe County Building Department issued a formal Temporary Certificate of Use and Occupancy on August 17, 2018 to the Evolve Bloomington development for Buildings 100, 200 and the Townhome specifically allowing students to safely occupy the property.

Prior to that date, and interconnected with this process, separate inspections were conducted by the Bloomington Fire Department to ensure that ALL fire suppression, life safety, egress path and requisite building security systems were built to code and are fully operational.

Per standard conventions, the building contractor (Gilliatte General Contractors) will immediately complete any outstanding punch-list conditions and coordinate requisite follow-up inspections, etc. to facilitate a Final Certificate of Use and Occupancy.

In addition, officials with the City of Bloomington walked through Evolve Bloomington today in advance of their scheduled late-September HAND inspections.   Today’s inspection verified compliance of life-safety standards within the facility and will result in the immediate issuance of a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy from the City of Bloomington in advance of the final walkthrough scheduled for late September.

Our local staff remains focused on prioritizing the safety, security and overall tenant satisfaction of our residents throughout this process."