NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Construction on the recently condemned condominiums at North Providence’s Canterbury Village could begin as soon as Thursday, according to Mayor Charles Lombardi.
Dozens of residents were forced from their homes Tuesday after the town deemed the building uninhabitable.
Lombardi said the building’s doors will remain locked until Vista Management, which maintains the condominiums, makes the necessary repairs.
“In a perfect world, [Vista Management] would be getting close to finishing up [the repairs] instead of just starting,” North Providence building inspector Michael Campagnone said.
Lombardi said the town worked with the American Red Cross to reserve hotel rooms for residents who had nowhere else to go.
“We did so out of the goodness of our heart,” Lombardi said. “We’ve rented a number of rooms to make sure that people have a place [to stay], a pillow to put their head on for the next few nights.”
Though Lombardi emphasized that it is not the town’s responsibility to find housing for the displaced residents, he said ensuring everyone’s safety is paramount.
“We’re not going to let anyone live in their car,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi said Vista Management will be responsible for housing the residents after their hotel reservations run out. But he stressed that the town would do everything in its power to keep residents safe should Vista Management not step up to the plate.
The building was condemned Monday afternoon due to the significant damage caused by a pipe that burst months prior. That damage was never addressed by Vista Management, which the town claims has been uncooperative.
“I asked [Vista Management] to get an architect and a construction manager, and they just laughed at me and said ‘No, we’re not doing that,'” Campagnone said.
North Providence Assistant Fire Chief John Horan said the building’s condition has deteriorated over time to the point where it is “unlivable” and riddled with safety hazards.
“It looks more like a construction site than [condominiums],” Horan explained.
Lombardi said there will soon be a lien on the building, meaning no one can live there until Vista Management has “made the town whole.”
“One way or another I know they’re going to pay, I can guarantee that,” he said. “The taxpayers of the town are not going to pick up the tab.”
Lombardi met with Vista Management’s attorneys Wednesday and discussed what needs to be done in order for the tenants to return home.
The town’s checklist for Vista Management not only includes addressing and repairing the building’s numerous safety hazards, but also providing temporary housing for tenants and keeping them as up to date as possible throughout the process.
“[Vista Management’s attorneys] assured us they were going to meet with their client and explain that this is what needs to get done,” he said.
Lombardi tells 12 News the town is worried for the residents living in other buildings maintained by Vista Management.
“I don’t like what I know,” Lombardi said, referencing the concerns brought to his attention by other tenants. “It needs to be squared away.”
“We’re going to address it,” he added. “We will do whatever needs to be done to make sure the residents of our town are safe.”