Photo by Max Efrein.
Gary Walden walks past 3133 Willow Creek Road nearly every day.
The once-empty five-acre parcel now hosts apartment structures that have appeared nearly complete for an unusual amount of time.
“For the past few months, there has been very little construction activity there,” Walden said.
In April, George Worley, the City of Prescott’s planning manager, told the Courier that the project was in its final building stages and was about a month away from final city inspections, after which the complex could open for business.
Now nearly August, shingles remain stacked on roofs awaiting installation, scaffolding remains in place around some of the larger structures and the complex’s roads still consist of dirt and rock rather than polished asphalt or concrete.
The Courier reached out to the project’s owner, Paul Johnson Drywall, Inc., contractor, Decca Multi-Family Builders, Inc., and architect, Chris Fergis of Fergis & Harding, Inc. multiple times over several weeks with no response.
It was discovered, however, that the property is financed using a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan. This is a mortgage insured by the FHA that protects lenders from a loss if borrowers default on the loan, according to the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development (HUD) website. The lenders bear less risk because FHA will pay a claim to the lender in the event of a default.
Ed Cabrera, a spokesperson for HUD, confirmed that the Willow Creek apartment complex is part of the department’s portfolio and was able to shed a little light on the situation.
The construction for the apartments was initially delayed at its onset by tough soil conditions, Cabrera said. There were more rock and hard soils than expected from a read of the geotechnical report and soil borings. This delayed construction significantly.
Then, as progress picked up on the second half of the buildings, construction issues were identified and a stop work order was issued until the work could be corrected, Cabrera said. When the work was not adequately corrected, the City of Prescott also issued a stop work order on portions of the project.
Randy Pluimer, the city’s Chief Building Official, confirmed that the stop work orders were issued, but was unwilling to speak further on the matter.
“For what else I know there are items being worked out between the owner, contractor, architect and HUD,” Pluimer said. “You will need to get that info from them.”
While HUD’s role is limited strictly to insuring the mortgage, it is doing what it can to assist the progress of the development.
“HUD is committed to working with the lender and the owner of the planned development on Willow Creek Road to assure that it is built in accordance with all plan specifications,” Cabrera said.
It is unclear at this time if and when these matters will be resolved.
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