Fire marshal: DiRimini lacks fire walls, sprinkler system

October 22, 2010
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Di RiminiThe state's fire marshal issued an emergency order Thursday barring occupancy of the DiRimini apartment project after the Emergency orderdeveloper apparently continued to move in residents in defiance of city orders. The state order, posted on every door in the 31-unit project at 733 N. Capitol Ave., says the building poses a "serious and immediate hazard of death or serious bodily injury." State officials inspected the building on Wednesday and found it does not contain fire walls between apartment units or a working sprinkler system, brazen violations of the Indiana Building Code. The order, signed by Indiana State Fire Marshal James L. Greeson, also notes that a required exit on the fourth-floor was not built as proposed, and that exit-stair treads do not meet the code.

The city's department of code enforcement has cited developer Jeff Sparks with several violations for building a project that differs in 35 ways from the approved plans. Sparks has not returned multiple phone messages. It still isn't clear how city and state inspectors could have missed so many violations until the building was almost complete and a neighborhood group spoke up. A spokeswoman for the department of code enforcement said the developer secured permits for one set of plans but built another.

IBJ first reported on the controversy in a print-edition story on Oct. 2. A list of the 35 violations follows that story. Blog posts on the DiRimini saga, which include the original rendering and fixes proposed by the developer, are available here, here and here.

  • eh?
    This is pretty damning information - to not build architectural or structural details to plans is one thing, but not building to code is another level all-together. Its like the home improvement shows on TLC or HGTV that come after a bad handyman job to do it right, except it was an entire building rather than a bathroom.
  • Fire Code Violations
    Looks like the city missed a lot on this one. How many other developers are doing this kind of internal "cost cutting" that the public doesn't know about until a disaster strikes? The building needs to be barricaded by the city. Forget about calling DiRimini, arrest the principal for fraud, they did misrepresent the building as safe to paying tenants when in fact, it is not build to current safety standards. JAIL TIME!
  • Next Move
    Eminent Domain the property, tear it down, sell the scraps to a recycler, auction the site off.
  • Really? I mean REALLY?
    DiRimini needs to get their act together if they think nothing is going to happen to them. But really - where the heck was the Dept of Code Enforcement on this one? Sure we have a lot of new things going on around downtown, but to let this building almost be complete before inspecting - and at that only AFTER neighboirng residence spoke up? And now the fire marshal is finding blatent violations of Indiana Building Codes? This is rediculous - I wonder how many other buildings around Indianapolis aren't up to spec...would be intersting to find out who fell asleep at the wheel on this one.
  • Jeff Sparks???
    Who is this guy and what is his background?

    Who did the construction?

    It would be interesting to know what other projects this guy has been involved in.
    • Me too
      I'd like to know who constructed this too. What kind of commercial contractor forgets fire protection?
    • DiRimini
      I would like to think that the City and now the state are not to blame. It is the sole responsibility of the developer to develop his/her property to building code and, if required, design standards. Get this: The City caught and then stopped this project in its tracks! Regardless if the stoppage was late or not, it was stopped and that is the important issue. Oh, it is the responsibility of the developer to inform the DCE when it is ready to be inspected. Some here think that the City is to blame. Do you really know what transpired when you place blame on the City. Do you know if the developer contacted DCE? Probably not.
    • Inspections
      According to the City's online permits database, the DCE structural and plumbing inspections were both PASSED on 7/27/10.
    • Always Seemed Suspicious
      I always thought it was a little suspicious that this was one of the few large-ish construction starts in downtown in the last couple years (outside of institutional projects). It seemed to sail through review and construction got started relatively quickly. Now we can see that the developer was cutting corners left and right. NO SPRINKLER SYSTEM? Really?!
    • Who is Jeff Sparks??
      I agree with RNR . . . who is the nut-ball and what other projects has he done? He seems to have flipped the city the bird as he kept building this thing. It just needs to go away and sooner rather than later.

    • Inspection Info
      The City ordinance requires the contractor to notify the City when the project reaches a certain stage of construction including foundation before concrete is placed, framing, electric, plumbing and heating before drywall is applied and then a final inspection. There is no requirement for a drywall inspection. You can't see the firewall construction after it has been completed. The inspection dept. appears to have performed their inspections. The contractor is ultimately responsible for building to submitte plans. That is where the fault lies.
    • Developer
      I have met the listed developer a few times. I don't think he has much background in contracting or development. I think most of his career has been spent in financial advising. Looks like the project got completely away from him.
    • Other Indy projects
      Jeff Sparks also developed a high end two unit condo project on the northeast corner of Lockerbie Street and East Street in Lockerbie. He was unable to sell either unit. Missed the market. The city should be ashamed for approving plans for the building on Capital. It lacks any architectural interest whatsoever.
    • Who is Mr. Sparks
      Cory, is this Jeff Sparks the same man who directs Heartland Film Festival?

      It would be nice to clear his name if they are two different men.
      • Smidge off sane
        Apparently, you have not followed this story from the beginning. The problems began when the City stopped the construction of this monstrosity when it was known that Sparks was building something entirely different from the approved plans.
      • Basic code 101
        I am amazed at this project. As an Architect-I can tell you that many clients don't hire us to provide the needed supervision during construction. The state has minimum visits that they require of an architect though and if I notice something different than what I designed-then I as my duty will inform my client and have notified the city if I felt it was needed. (rarely)

        What disturbs me most on this project is this-Every architect or builder of anything other than a home knows by now that multi-family apartments must have a sprinkler system..either a NFPA or NFPA13R..So I cannot understand how in any sort of hurry that the system was not installed. Ugly aside, this building lacks even the most basic of life safety and I am glad to see the officials not allow for occupancy. The code fixes will not be cheap! I too would like to know who designed the structure and who built the structure. Think I will go check the state fire/building website to see.
      • Who Did This...
        I know this project has been in several blogs for quite some time now demonstrating how wonderful the design is. All bureaucratic issues aside, has anyone ever seen who did the original design? I will not call it architecture...for obvious reasons. I would like to see names mentioned of just who put this together from the beginning and who submitted the required permit drawings. I think it is fair for their names to be mentioned so we all know just how great a job they do. Does anyone know?? From what I recall JT Designers submitted the original elevation concepts (under the project name Sarojo Commons) but I do not know who they are or really what they do. I believe they just broker services, meaning someone else designed this beautiful structure. Anybody know who all the responsible players are in this?
      • i wouldnt move in
        ...move into a building that looks like its made out of cardboard boxes, only to find out that it very well may be made out of cardboard boxes. but all that parking! yay!
      • Saw this on Channel 13
        Did anyone catch the news segment on Channel 13 on Saturday? They interviewed the developer (same guy who runs Heartland Truly Moving Pictures). He was wearing a fleece jacket branded with the famous Ferrari coat of arms. Apparently, he needed an exotic car more than he needed a fire stair?

        There was also a code enforcement official who demonstrated apparent deficiencies. She pulled on a standpipe and it seemed ready to pull out of a brick wall.

        At least they dumped the large particle board "MODEL OPEN" sign in the alley (that had been leaning against the building). I confess that I'm watching with morbid curiosity now...
      • Owner acted as GC...
        Cory deleted my previous but as I said then these plans were not buildable when we intially saw them and spoke to the owner to that effect. Acting as the GC there were/are a number of things that were taken for granted. Not surprised to see it end as it has.
      • DCE = FAIL!
        This guy shouldn't have shown plans for one thing and built another.

        Even so, Code Enforcement should have caught this in the very early stages - such as in the footings and foundations stage (missing stairwell) or at framing or rough-in. (you can tell there's inadequate sprinklers at rough-in)

        Also note that they had no teeth - even without an occupancy permit the owner was able to move residents in. It took the State Fire Marshal to enforce the issue.

        The City needs to fix the DCE - rather than give the billionaire Simons another $30 million.
      • Ferrari Jacket Vs Ferrari
        Owning a jacket with a Ferrari logo does not mean you own a Ferrari. There's plenty to criticize here without resorting to sillyness.

        When I built a large addition to a fraternity several years ago, the then DCAM building inspectors were all over our project like white on rice, so I'm amazed at the folks who seem to think they should be let off the hook for letting this one get so far into construction before stopping it. We were cited (wrongly) for things like fire dampers, fire walls, ramps, etc. They issued SWOs on us like rain, all of which were either easily resolved or overturned. For folks to say they had no responsibility here seems a bit disingenuous. The developer IS ultimately responsible but DCE should have stopped this before they got this far.
      • NOT Jeff Sparks of Heartland
        Please note that the Jeff Sparks that is referred to in this story is NOT Jeff Sparks the President and CEO of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures. He was mistakenly identified as such at first by both the IBJ and WTHR, however both have retracted this as an inaccuracy.
      • Response
        Margaret: IBJ has NEVER identified DiRimini's Jeff Sparks as the CEO of Truly Moving Pictures.
      • Whew
        So glad to finally hear that this isn't the same Jeff Sparks.
        thanks for sharing your story! this is very informative.
        • good job!
          good news! such a great discussion. see my essay writing
        • no
          ablerock - no, it absolutely is not that Jeff Sparks

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