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Failed Inspection Adds to Maine High-Rise Troubles

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Failed Inspection Adds to Maine High-Rise Troubles

 

PETER MCGUIRE, Portland Press Herald

Portland, Me. – Portland’s Time and Temperature building fails a fire inspection, adding to problems at the iconic downtown building.

Multiple fire safety violations were discovered in the Time & Temperature building during a surprise November inspection, adding to problems in the iconic downtown Portland high-rise.

Fire department officials found 19 violations during a Nov. 3 inspection triggered by an anonymous complaint.

Five floors in the 14-story building lack sprinkler systems, and multiple floors did not have hard-wired smoke detectors, according to the inspection report. Inspectors also found multiple expired fire extinguishers, inoperative emergency lighting, missing exit signs, blocked fire exits and other issues.

The department is working with the building owner to resolve the violations, which were found in floors occupied by tenants, said Assistant Fire Chief Keith Gautreau.

“In a building that big, you are going to find a number of violations,” Gautreau said.

The Time & Temperature building is owned by CW Capital Asset Management, a special loan servicer in Bethesda, Maryland. The company declined to comment on the violations, and whether it planned to sell the building.

A representative of NAI Hunneman, the Boston company that manages the building, did not answer questions about the violations in an email Wednesday.

Fire safety deficiencies like those found at the Time & Temperature building are not uncommon in Portland’s downtown office buildings, Gautreau said.

“I would say for the amount of older commercial buildings, this is par for the course,” he said. “Had we been in the building without any sprinklers or fire alarms, that would have been a problem, but that isn’t the case here.”

The management company has fixed many of the minor violations and is working on getting price quotes for major items such as sprinkler systems, Gautreau said.

“For a building that size, we are happy they are being responsive,” he said. The owner or management company is expected to file a plan of action with the fire department that includes prices and a timeline to resolve violations.

“We understand you can’t install a sprinkler system in one week, but we need to see things moving in the right direction,” Gautreau said.

The inspection early this month was the first in at least six years, he said. He did not respond to an emailed question about why the violations were not flagged in prior inspections.

Department inspectors have focused on residential units since six people were killed in an apartment fire on Noyes Street in 2014. The department will not conduct regular inspections of commercial buildings until the department is caught up on residential inspections, Gautreau said.

Tenants of the Time & Temperature building, at 477 Congress St., said in October that the building suffers from long-term neglect and has fallen into disrepair. About 100 businesses have space in the building.

Problems cited by the remaining tenants included malfunctioning elevators, peeling paint and corroding pipes. Much of the building was unheated last winter and offices are sweltering in the summer, according to tenants.

CW Capital Asset Management seized the property after it foreclosed on the previous owner, a subsidiary of Brooklyn-based Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates.

The building was opened in 1924 as the 12-story Chapman Building. In its early history, the building was distinguished by a ground-floor shopping arcade with a glassed-in mezzanine illuminated with a skylight.

The building’s 30-foot-wide, 9-foot-high rooftop digital clock has been the most recognizable landmark in the Portland skyline since it was installed in 1964. Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: pmcguire@pressherald.com Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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