TAMPA — Police are investigating possible acts of vandalism after finding part of the new Virage condo tower on Bayshore Boulevard flooded and elevator equipment damaged.
No charges have been filed so far, although damage was initially estimated at $50,000.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, a caller reported that a large group of people had entered the site of the tower, which is under construction at Bayshore and West Julia Street. Police found young men and women running around the second level of the 24-story building and told them to leave, which they did.
In searching the tower, officers noted that the 21st floor — mostly unfinished concrete — had been flooded by water running from a hose connected to an open spigot.
On the top floor, officers found that three elevator sheaves — the pulleys used on cable elevators — had been rolled toward the west elevator shaft. Two had been thrown down the shaft, damaging it as they fell. One landed at the bottom of the shaft while the other crashed through the 14th floor, the report said.
The incidents are "still under investigation,'' police spokesperson Steve Hegarty said Monday. "We were unable to determine whether the flooding was caused by a rupture in the hose, or if the workers left it on by mistake, or the kids did it intentionally. Also, we’re investigating to see who is responsible for what appears to be a very deliberate act of rolling the elevator equipment down the shaft.''
In response to questions from a reporter, the developer of Virage, Ascentia Development Group, said:
"A group of teenagers broke into the construction site … and caused some vandalism and equipment damage. During the incident, a burst water hose was discovered at an upper-level area that was at the bare concrete stage. Our completed and near-completed units were not affected. Police and our construction experts quickly had the situation under control, and damage appears to be superficial. We expect delivery of residences to buyers to proceed on schedule.''
In 2014, another Tampa condo tower, the Stovall on Bayshore Boulevard, was badly damaged when a worker accidentally broke a sprinkler pipe, causing thousands of gallons of water to flood units below. Residents had to move out for several months while repairs were underway.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.