MEMPHIS, Tenn.– On the same day the leasing office at the Peppertree Apartments went up in flames and lawyers for the troubled complex were back in Environmental Court, the NewsChannel 3 Investigators uncovered more details about collapsed walkways at the taxpayer-funded apartments earlier this month.
Two residents were hospitalized after the collapse on August 2. Shelby County Construction Code Enforcement sent inspectors to the complex two days in a row after the collapse.
Memphis Code Enforcement confirmed that a second walkway collapsed at Peppertree just a few days later on Aug. 12. They were issued a violation notice on the 15th, the city said.
August 17, 2022 | Jennifer Sink, City of Memphis Chief Legal Officer issued this statement:
Peppertree representatives appeared in Environmental Court on Wednesday.
“The City is requiring Peppertree to have all walkways, stairs, decks, porches and balconies to be repaired or replaced. These repairs must be inspected by a structural engineer to ensure the quality of the repairs,” Memphis Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Sink said in an email. “Peppertree has been ordered to finish bracing all the walkways as a temporary measure until all the structural repairs are completed. Another hearing is scheduled for August 22nd.”
Code inspectors said it appeared “successive layers of concrete were added over the years after the initial pour, with no steel reinforcement. Metal pans had rusted and become deteriorated.”
Inspectors from the county also took pictures of the damage. According to the inspector’s notes, they also posted “Dangerous Building” placards in the area.
Administrators with county Code Enforcement said Peppertree must hire a licensed contractor to make the repairs.
They also confirmed they sent an inspector out to the complex earlier this week after reports of a second collapse, but after walking the entire complex the inspector never found evidence of a second collapse.
County Construction Code handles inspections, like the one related to the collapse, only when the issue is construction or building related, but they don’t conduct regular inspections of such properties.
City Code Enforcement responds to complaints about potential code violations.
HUD is responsible for conducting property inspections at various periods and the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) handles separate reviews, mainly of management and tenant files of taxpayer-funded properties.
HUD has been tight-lipped when asked about problems at Peppertree.
A spokesperson told WREG earlier this month after the August 2 walkway collapse, “HUD is concerned with the safety of residents and is working with the Ownership of Peppertree to resolve any safety issues. Due to ongoing litigation, HUD cannot offer any additional comment at this time.”
Lawyers for Peppertree were in Environmental Court Wednesday for previous violations cited by the City. Those cases are also back on the docket for Monday.
The complex has been tied up in federal court with the county after the DA’s office declared it a public nuisance, citing all the crimes that have taken place at the apartments over the last two years.