Monday, October 20, 2008

Update on Landmark Towers

I've got some updates on the info in my August post about the troubles plaguing Landmark Towers.


I got this info through various buyer showing appointments, talking to some HOA management representatives, talking to some residents in the elevators and lobby, and quizzing a local Realtor acquaintance who lives there.


Regarding the A/C issue. A resident I met in the elevators said they need a new chiller and the expected cost was $1M. I'm unsure if the Landmark has a chiller instead of an A/C system, or if the chiller is a component of the existing A/C system. Wikipedia makes them seem inter-related: a chiller is either air-cooled or water-cooled and pumps cold air through ducts to cool buildings, and a chiller can be stand alone or part of an integrated HVAC system.


Mechanical engineering aside, my inside informant confirmed this. Plus his inside tipster on the HOA Board says they're cutting some other areas of the budget so that they can absorb the chiller repair cost without raising HOA dues for 2009. Some of the expected cuts for 2009 are the valet service is gone, and the Direct TV satellite service will be changed a bit too. Since there are 2 central elevators that run from the parking spots in the basement to rooftop, the valet service always seemed a little silly to me, but what do I know? My informant said the valet cost about $125,000 a year to maintain. Holy Short Trip Driving, Batman!


I can tell you from personal experience that the climate control system at the Landmark currently works like gangbusters. No matter whether it comes from a chiller, an A/C or a group of hamsters running treadmills in the basement, that air blows cold!


I showed about 10 or 12 condos there on October 9 and 10 when it was still really hot and sticky. The units with A/C on and blowing were our favorites. Standing in front of those blowing ducts was like an icy blast from a wind turbine. That stuff blows cold! We also visited several condos with the power off completely and therefore no A/C blowing. Those units were fairly comfortable to stand in for 10 minutes at a time or longer. Considering that 1 entire wall of every condo is floor-to-ceiling glass, and these units have been on the market for months without power, I was impressed by the building's overall ability to hold in the cold and keep out the heat.


My buyers and I calculated that at most, the cost of absorbing some increases to the monthly HOA dues to cover repairs to the climate control would be either $0 as the HOA Board indicates, or at most a thousand or two spread over time.


Considering we were looking at a 6th floor 1-bedroom unit with 180 degree views off the North side of the building, from the White Tanks to Camelback Mountain, and the asking price was $42,900 - we were all pretty sure it was still a great deal.


Bottom line - I'd buy in the Landmark. In fact, I was trying to figure out where to scrounge $42,000 to buy that 6th floor view once my buyer client took a pass.


(BTW, this bit I can't confirm... my friend the Landmark resident says there has been a lawsuit either considered or filed over the local newspaper story covering the Tower's troubles. I can't confirm or deny that, but wouldn't be surprised. Prices at the Landmark have plummeted in the past year, more so than other nearby towers that were also affected by the Light Rail construction.)


Related Posts - Century Plaza Condos



The following are comments made on my old blog, NorthPhoenixAgent.com after I imported that blog over here to ThePhoenixAgents.com. These comments didn't make it to the new blog but are pertinent to the ongoing discussion.



Edmond, Jan 9, 2009, 11:26 am:  ---  I live on the North side of the building. Since the light rail started up the noise has been crazy. The honking of the trains and trains’ crossing bell has ruined the peaceful patio view. The trains wake me up a 4:00 am with the loudspeaker blaring to “step away from the train.”
The breaking point for me is the hot water situation. The building is nearly vacant, yet the shower pressure and temperature has become unpredictable. The temperature swings from scolding hot to ice cold in seconds. Adding insult to injury the management company is consistently rude to residence. Any complaint addressed to them is usually answered with a roll of the eyes and a comment such as, “This is suppose to be a part-time job for us.”

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Irwin Reese, Jan 10, 2009, 9:55pm:    ----  My understanding is this building has “bad pipes.”
The dilapidated/problem plumbing was never fixed in 2004 and this seems to be a serious issue that requires replacement of ALL of the pipes.

Mold, fungus, and other issues are a significant concern as the water leaks from the top floors down. An outfit is currently working on another leak from the 11th floor. The water reached the 6th floor and things are a mess.


The HOA fees currently range from around $300 for a 400 foot studio to nearly a $1000 for a 2 or 3 bedroom. The fees will rise as these issues continue to plague the building.


There is a 35 million dollar lawsuit underway. It is my understanding that it will take nearly this amount to fix the building. This could drag on for years. Can you imagine what the HOA fees will be if the lawsuit is unsuccessful?


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Ian says, Jan 29, 2009, 11:59pm:  ---- I’m looking at buying my first home, and the Landmark initially has looked very attractive to me. However, I’ve read so many different opinions on living there from as many sources I can find and I don’t know what to believe (I suspect a blend of all opinions is likely). I will say that this piece, as well as the comments that followed, have certainly been the most coherent and constructive discussions I’ve seen.

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Then see my entry on February 5, 2009 for a further update from me, based on my buyer client's finding before and after he purchased a studio unit at the Landmark Towers.