Hello Fellow Owner/s,
With my wife Bobbie, I have been an owner of an apartment at 34 Union Street since 2011. We experienced all of the drama of the first few years of residence, and the slow years of restoration. The last significant task of replacing the timber cladding is to be complete by the end of March .
Unfortunately, in parallel with the restoration process we have accumulated a number of relatively minor but untreated problems that leave us living in a very shabby building. If you doubt this assertion walk past some of the shabbinesses listed on the reverse of this note.
The reason I write directly to you is that over the past years I have tried with no success to communicate with our Owners Committee in the first instance, and then with MIA, the property managers, to encourage them to act. There have been two significant responses; an email from the committee chairman expressing his outrage that I should describe our building as shabby, and a more recent move that blocks any communication from owners directly to our committee. All communications must now go via MIA.
My personal experience of apartment ownership started with 5 years as an investor owner, then retirement and 10 years in Western Australia living in an 81-unit strata, and now nearly 12 years here at Union Street. I have learned that owners have ideas, and that discussion can turn these into community benefits. How and where can 34 Union Street owners have useful discussions? Should we have our own website? What other options?
Restricting discussion of our community’s problems and opportunities, the path chosen by MIA and your committee, has been a very destructive route to take.
With our present arrangements, the only place and time where owners can discuss the state of their building is at the Annual General Meeting. A look at the last AGM Agenda will show an item “General Business”. The minutes show a blank, presumably there was no discussion.
If after the tour I offer on the reverse page, you agree we need to take action, there are some options:
Take a short walk through The Sad Truth and send your opinions to MIA and me.
The sad truth
Start the walk across the front of our building at the RMIT boundary next to the Café. This 1.7 metre section of our boundary with RMIT is defined by a ramshackle cyclone wire fence. It’s an ugly start to our tour and one that can be easily improved. The paved strip that extends from here across to our front door and parallel to the council footpath is green with mildew during rainy periods.
Move to the west corner of the café and note the badly installed, small access pit cover. The depression is a receptacle for dirt, cigarette butts and leaves. It’s easily fixed, but yellow tape and a security warning has been considered sufficient. Avert your gaze from the garage door, that’s another story.
In front of the Osteopath, there is a crack across the paving and the following two paving segments have subsided enough to be unsightly. Now on to the front entrance.
On your left is the meter cabinet that had graffiti on it for months. Months later after a second serving of graffiti arrived it was removed. This cabinet also has a badly repaired door where the right-hand stile dropped about a centimetre. The repair filled the gap at the top with caulking. A proper repair, restoring the stile to is position, may have taken the same time and cost but required getting the key from MIA to open the door.
At your feet you will see a substantial crack across the full width of the entrance. It’s been there for years and now is growing its own crop of weeds. It is said that years back a lady broke the heel of an expensive shoe. It could happen again. On the left side between the crack and the west side glass panel is a triangular area where a puddle forms during rain and leaks into the mail room. Self-levelling cement will fix this if management bothered.
Now you can move into our lobby, a showcase for how concrete shouldn’t be handled if the intention is to have a polished floor. It has been described as the worst in Melbourne.
Ahead you see some disarranged cedar planters with an ugly display of monsteras. This was intended to cover the areas of the lobby floor alongside the west wall that remained unpolished after they were exposed as part of the wall reconstruction – part of our initial problems.
It is said that the fire service people complained about the plants interfering with access to the monitoring panel. Surely a change to smaller plants is a better solution than to expose the unpolished concrete. The north end planter was also moved because the plants couldn’t stand the heat of the sun. Again, why not select heat tolerant plants. The disarranged planters add to the squalor.
Now we’ll avoid the lift and head to the front stairs. As you are about to enter you may notice the sullage pit cover to your left that was not properly closed after its last opening, leaving a 1-centimetre ridge. The MIA solution was not to open the lid and remove the obstruction, but to put yellow tape around it and note it a as a security hazard.
The filth of these stairs leading up to level 1 has been there since day one. Some efforts were made to clean them, but abandoned as too difficult. (Try trisodium phosphate}
Open the door to L1 and you will see at your feet rust on the tiles, filth in the grating and an incredibly dirty metal lift sill.
There is much more, but surely that’s enough.
P.S. I investigated the dirty lift sill because to a much less extent it is also on the lift sills at levels 2 and 3. It is cement remaining from the original construction in 2010. It's hard to remove, but do-able.