Asia Minute: Condo Nightmare in Sydney

Dec 31, 2018

Sydney, Australia
Credit Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

It’s a scary scenario for anyone who lives in a condo or apartment building: a crack in a wall that begins to spread. In Australia, the experience of residents in one building has now turned into an international story.

Sydney’s Opal Tower skyscraper is a 38-story building featuring multi-million dollar units with city views to match the price tags.

It opened this year. But just before Christmas, some residents reported “cracking noises” — which led to an evacuation of about 300 people. Engineers were called in and residents were kept away from 51 units.

The building’s owner claimed it was “structurally sound,” but then it was evacuated for a second time while investigators zeroed in on a panel of precast concrete that collapsed.

By last Thursday, the news was getting worse — residents were told they would have to stay out of the building for at least ten days while further safety checks are conducted.

The government of the state of New South Wales is now involved with its own investigation.

Local media report that concerns may go beyond Opal Tower itself — extending to the building industry more generally. That’s a particular focus because of the rapid pace of recent construction in many parts of Sydney.

The company that built the Opal Tower is called Icon — and its officials say the building is not in danger of collapse, but they also cannot guarantee all residents will be able to return after ten days.