Plans to help tenants move safely out of the Royal Towers apartment complex are expected to be made public Friday.
The Manhattan Fire Department condemned the building last week, giving residents until May 1 to vacate the building. A February exterior inspection found widespread spalling of concrete walkways and stairs, with some areas where concrete is completely missing, exposing deteriorated steel reinforcing.
The issues date back to 2019, when an engineer’s report also outlined walkway issues, according to Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Almes, who appeared with city officials on KMAN’s In Focus Tuesday. At that time, he says, the structural integrity of the 4-story building was sound but required ongoing evaluation, something that hasn’t been maintained.
Some have pointed to a need for better city policy on rentals in Manhattan. Mayor Mark Hatesohl says he thinks it shows what the city has in place is working.
Hatesohl points to a lack of communication between the property’s out-of-state ownership and the local management company, who failed to bring the building up to code. He also says the current situation highlights why residents should never rent a place before seeing it first and to communicate issues to their landlords, noting tenants should not put up with negligence, no matter how affordable a rental is.
Hatesohl contends the property management company does bear responsibility for its lack of communication.
The fire department’s Risk Reduction division is encouraging residents to explore alternative housing arrangements. The property is estimated to be about 30% occupied by college-aged students. Almes says the City is working with social service agencies to connect residents with needs they may have to facilitate relocation.
The big thing Almes says his office needs from tenants is what kind of assistance they require.
The building’s future beyond May 1 remains uncertain. While walkways and stairwells were deemed structurally unsound, the building’s units have had no issues regarding structural integrity. Almes says the fire department will have an open notice to repair on the building, requiring the owner to make those repairs as with any damaged building.
Residents needing further assistance are asked to call or text the Manhattan Fire Department at 785-770-6141.