The Pestronk brothers, who are slowly completing the conversion of the Goldtex building in the Loft District after an eight-month-long union stand-off, wanted to get noticed when they sent out “VIP” invitations Thursday to a rooftop preview party for their new apartments. And they certainly did. Just not in the way they intended.
The on-line invites featured a salacious image of three women clad - barely - in undies and pearls, with the provocative subject line, “Come Polish My Pearl.” The three were arrayed on a trendy-looking kitchen countertop, piled with oysters.
But at 2:30 p.m. Thursday – three-and-a-half hours after the invitations began popping up and popping eyeballs – someone quietly filed a complaint with the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections pointing out that the Goldtex building at 12th and Pearl Streets (just north of Vine Street) lacked a certificate of occupancy. No small matter when you’re planning to bring a gang of folks to the top of a 10 story building.
L&I inspectors told the Pestronks, no rooftop party. But they said they could apply for a special event permit, like the kind the FringeArts festival uses when it holds events in abandoned buildings. The real estate barons declined. Instead, they moved the party to an outdoor courtyard on the ground floor. No fines were issued since they fixed the problem by not holding the party on the roof, said L&I spokesperson Maura Kennedy.
But you don’t have to be a trained L&I inspector to see that Goldtex is very far from being ready for habitation, more than 17 months after construction started. I stopped by this morning and took the photo above, showing what looked like an unfinished rooftop railing and plywood panels in the façade. It normally takes between 18 and 24 months to complete a high-rise building from scratch. To be fair, though, the Pestronks have faced exceptional hardships during the project. They spent the first eight months under siege by the city’s trade unions, who surrounded the project to protest their decision not to go with an all-union workforce. The siege made it difficult to get materials delivered and forced the developers to resort to elaborate ruses.
I asked Kennedy who had filed the compaint, but she said L&I has a policy of not disclosing names. But I couldn’t help noting that the first person to sound the alarm was Frank Keel, the official PR guy for the Building Trades Council, whose triumphant email arrived in my inbox at 8:37 p.m. L&I “showed up” before the VIP party and “shut it down,” Keel’s email chortled. In a telephone interview, all he would own up to was that, “concerned citizens who have been by there, and seen the incomplete state of the building, reached out to L&I."
Keel said it was clear that the apartment conversion still has a long way to go. Warming to the same theme, Building Trades Business Manager Pat Gillespie claimed, "That clap-trap apartment building is nowhere near ready for occupancy, that's why they've only been showing the model apartment under the cover of darkness, so potential renters won't see the true, unfinished condition of the building.”
The normally voluble Pestronk brothers could not be reached for comment today. Perhaps they were sleeping off the after-effects of the party.