Willowbrook construction completion date still unclear

srocco@bradenton.comApril 24, 2014 

EAST MANATEE -- Blue Porta-Potties line the streets of Willowbrook like mailboxes.

Cars must weave around massive Dumpsters placed in the middle of neighborhood roads while giant trucks maneuver back and forth.

Construction worker cars line Town Center Parkway for at least a quarter-mile outside the neighborhood entrance.

Still, there is no end in sight to Willowbrook's construction crisis.

Nearly 1 1/2 years has passed since repairs began on Willowbrook townhomes afflicted with water intrusion, mold and defective balconies, among other signs of shoddy construction. KB Home of Detroit, which developed the 272-unit community next to Lakewood Ranch, agreed to pay for repairs on the units after an outcry from residents. Construction began in January 2013.

So far, 15 buildings have been fixed, and 25 more are under repair, said KB Home spokeswoman Cara Kane. Willowbrook has 51 buildings.

A completion date is yet to be determined.

"We are progressing as anticipated," Kane told the Herald in an email.

Sal Ventimiglia, president of Dueall Construction of Gibsonton, the contractor assigned to the project, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Ventimiglia has said each building repair will take 3 1/2 months. Kane said workers are still hitting that timetable.

Robert Clark, a Sarasota resident, bought a Willowbrook unit in 2007 as a second home and a place for his daughter and grandchildren to stay. But Clark moved his family out last February after he said severe water intrusion, mold and mildew began to creep in, and the unit became unsafe for two asthmatic children.

"I did not want to have my family living here, and in good conscience I could not move someone else in there. Some people rent their units but I couldn't do it," Clark said as he stood outside of his townhome Wednesday afternoon.

Clark said he's worried about the guidance construction workers are getting. He said he is disappointed in the Manatee County building inspectors and the Manatee County Commission for not taking the Willowbrook crisis more seriously.

"Right now this whole community needs someone pushing for them, because I think there are a lot of influential people pushing against us," he said.

John Barnott, department director of Manatee County Building and Development Services, said Manatee County will not inspect the repaired buildings because three state-licensed engineering firms are doing inspections on behalf of KB Home and the residents. "They turn over all the completed inspection reports to us," Barnott said.

Clark said even though his Willowbrook unit has created an abundance of stress for him and family, he won't consider selling.

"I don't want someone to inherit my problems," he said. "I don't believe in doing it that way. I don't want to sell a lemon."

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service