LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A condo complex a block off the Las Vegas Strip is facing plumbing and structural problems, largely in part to raw sewage leaking up from the ground.
The Desert Inn Villas at 356 E. Desert Inn Road near Paradise Road are six, three-story buildings connected with breezeways. The complex was built in 1963, records showed.
“It’s absolutely disgusting,” condo owner Omar Mazeghou told the I-Team.
“The place is just deteriorating,” Carl Osborne, a tenant, said. “The walls in some places of the building are bulging outwards.”
Exterior walls are bulging, some interior sidewalks are cracked and untreated sewage is leaking under the buildings, tenants said and an inspection report indicated. When the I-Team visited the property, there were pieces of toilet paper where some sewage had dried on the ground around exposed pipes.
“You can smell it,” Osborne, who first moved to the complex 30 years ago, said. “I’m really sad that it’s gone downhill the way it has.”
A Clark County inspector visited the property in February 2021 and found the drainage system is clogged, “creating backflow into lower tenants’ sinks and other interceptors,” a report said.
“The drainage cleanout plugs have been removed to stop the backflow into the lower tenants’ interceptors, which, in turn, is allowing gray water to flow onto the sidewalks, parking spaces, and into the driveways, thereby creating an environmental hazard,” the report stated.
“In addition, areas around the pool have become dilapidated,” it continued. “Sidewalks are sinking, creating large cracks that may cause a tripping hazard. The pool barrier walls are buckling, showing signs of structure failure, which may cause life safety issues.”
The Department of Building & Fire Prevention issued the homeowners’ association a second notice of order and abatement last week. The notice mentions “evidence of potential settlement at several locations around the six condominium structures and the two elevator structures. It appears the settlement may be caused by the irrigation system and raw sewage being discharged between the structures, evidence of which was visible in the concrete around the pool deck and surrounding interior concrete walkways.
“It’s extremely dangerous,” Mazeghou said, adding his apartment flooded earlier this year with suspected sewage. He said he does not sleep in his unit anymore.
“I have been homeless for nine months even though I own my property,” he said.
Since February, Osborne and Mazeghou have sent the I-Team photos and videos of the ongoing issues. This summer, county inspectors said the building’s front lobby posed “an imminent hazard to public safety.”
“One side of the building seems to be tilting one way,” Osborne said. “Stand out in front on this side of the building and you can kind of see it.”
Caution tape surrounds the Desert Inn side of the property and part of the windows appear to be buckling. Due to the complex’s location near the Strip, the county has it zoned for future hotel and tourism use, making the land valuable.
The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) issued Desert Inn Villas Homeowners Association a notice of violation due to the leaking sewage, a spokeswoman said. A building representative will have to go to a solid waste management hearing in November.
Osborne and Mazeghou said they both have been in contact with the county and SNHD.
“They also mentioned to me that they’d hate to condemn the place, because that makes everybody homeless, that everybody would have to move out,” Osborne said.
A representative from the building management company said the aging building and plumbing system is costing the association upwards of $1 million to fix.
“The HOA and our management company have made this top priority and are calling in every favor we can to expedite the process,” the representative for First Columbia Community Managers said in an email. “We are working with contractors, engineering, and consultants to no longer band-aid the issues at hand and finally correct them once and for all. These repairs are a huge expense to the association financially and with limited resources, we can only get them done so fast.”
He added from what he is told, the building is not in danger of collapse.
The county has asked the homeowners’ association to complete the structural remedies as soon as permits are obtained.