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February 27, 2014
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UCAN sues contractor over failing apartment building

A nonprofit organization’s director says he hopes mediation will resolve a $600,000 lawsuit his agency has brought against the builders of apartments for low-income tenants in Winston.

United Community Action Network filed the suit last year, alleging construction defects by Roseburg contractor R.E. Noah & Co., Poticha Architects of Eugene and 11 subcontractors.

The companies worked on the six-unit Liberty Pointe Apartments, low-cost housing that opened in 2003 in the 200 block of Northeast Gregory Drive.

UCAN Executive Director Mike Fieldman said Tuesday the nonprofit agency noticed water damage in some of the units a couple of years ago and looked into the problem.

“We realized it was more extensive than we thought,” he said.

The lawsuit seeks at least $600,000 for repairs and to compensate UCAN for investigating the damage and for the apartments’ loss of value.

UCAN and Noah construction representatives talked about the problems before UCAN sued, Fieldman said.

“It’s just the most effective way to work through this process because of all the subcontractors involved,” he said. “This is the first time we are dealing with a situation like this.

“We are trying to figure out where the responsibility lies. Our hope is that we won’t actually have to go to trial,” Fieldman said.

Noah construction president, Russ Noah, said in an interview that the parties can reach an agreement through mediation. He said most of the problems are related to design flaws.

Poticha Architects designed the apartments, according to court documents. The business’ owner, Otto Poticha, declined to comment.

The subcontractors named in the lawsuit are Addcox Electric, Brown Drywall, Bunnell’s Overhead Door, Douglas Glass Co., Eveland Enterprises, JB Insulation, Pacific Air Comfort, Umpqua Roofing Company, RNR Enterprises, Munson Door & Window and Side-Co Inc.

The lawsuit alleges construction defects have led to ongoing damage to the siding, windows, roof, frame, insulation and interior.

Most of the damage has been in one unit, Fieldman said.

Sheree Atkins, 34, said her family was one of the first to move into the apartments.

The unit flooded shortly after the family moved in and the walls feel soft and carpet smells musty, she said.

There also have been problems with the roof leaking and mold growing on the wall in her son’s room, Atkins said.

Fieldman said UCAN has made temporary repairs as problems have come up.

He said he hopes to finish mediation in May.

“We just have to remember that this is housing for low-income people. It’s to the benefit for the client we serve to come to a resolution,” he said.

• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and jprokop@nrtoday.com.

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The News-Review Updated Feb 27, 2014 01:15PM Published Feb 28, 2014 10:25AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.