Outrage after renovation leaves tenants in the dark

April 27, 2012 5:01:17 PM PDT
There's outrage at a big East Bay apartment complex after construction crews suddenly covered all the building's windows, leaving tenants in the dark.

In the last four days, plastic wrap has gone up and the windows have been boarded over with plywood as the renovation of the Piedmont Apartments has gotten underway.

But there are still residents living inside the building, and they're worried that the materials being used are putting their health at risk.

Resident Nigus Solomon said the construction crews came in unannounced without permission.

"We did not give them any permission to enter our homes. They came in unannounced, all our TVs were moved away from the balcony, and everything was moved -- all our couches -- and everything was boarded when we got home," he said.

Entire windows were boarded up and residents say the plywood used smells like chemical glues.

"It smells really bad," one resident said, adding that it feels very suffocating.

Residents became so frustrated that a melee nearly sparked when a group of residents tried to show ABC7 their homes. But managers said we were not allowed in the office.

Kipling Sheppard, the president of Wasatch Advantage Group, is the developer of the project. He bought the building, located on the 200 block of West MacArthur Boulevard, last month.

"I don't want to take away from their concerns at all or make it sound like we feel like their concerns aren't valid, which is why we're addressing these things as they come to us," Sheppard said.

He said he's fully committed to making sure everything is made right as the renovation continues. He said funding of the $10 million project is in part dependent on a quick time schedule.

The city of Oakland has since ordered a stop-work order on the project because they say there is simply not enough ventilation or enough natural light for a lot of the units affected.

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