Oct. 27—The Railyard Flats saga may come to an end sooner than expected.
The complex's ownership group, Casey Jones LLC, said stranded residents may be able to return to their homes by Dec. 31 — nearly six months after persistent problems with power at the 4-year-old complex forced many to move.
Almost all of the required parts needed to repair the building's power panels have been shipped, Casey Jones wrote in an email last week.
"We credit the herculean efforts on the part of the manufacturer, their distributor, and the electrical contractor to accelerate the needed parts," the email stated. "We can not give solid dates for prospective 'power-is-on, move-back-in' until we have all the parts on site and begin installation."
The announcement from ownership, which said the Dec. 31 date is tentative, also gave tenants something they've been waiting for — some answers about the cause of the power outages that forced tenants to leave the complex at 701 Camino de la Familia.
"We were finally allowed to have investigators out this week tearing into the power panels to determine the cause of the June fault," Casey Jones wrote in an email to tenants. "We have attached three photos herein showing the root cause, which we believe confirms an installation error by the building's subcontractor."
The photos provided to tenants show the individual components of power panel bolts used during Railyard Flats' construction in 2017. According to the email, the bolts on the building's south side were not "tightened to the proper torque," which in turn caused permanent damage to the meter panels for all 58 apartments.
"This installation error was not visible without disassembling the power panels, something one would only do knowing you were looking for a problem," Casey Jones said. "Tenants have lived in Railyard Flats for years before the power failure of June 17th."
The email also said the investigation into the power outage was delayed due to the death of the complex's builder on June 20.
Lar Thomas, general counsel for Lockwood Construction for about 25 years, confirmed Wednesday the firm on Botulph Lane in Santa Fe built Railyard Flats. The firm was founded by Robert Lockwood Sr. His son, Robert Lockwood Jr., 66, headed the company until his death June 20.
Thomas, who now serves as the personal representative for Lockwood Jr.'s estate, said a subcontractor, Alive Electric, was involved in the electrical installation at the complex.
A representative for the company deferred questions regarding its work on Railyard Flats to its insurance lawyer. Attorney Chet Alderete said the company declined comment because the investigation is pending.
A potential end date was cold comfort to some Railyard Flats residents, who said they have been given other estimated repair dates.
"I don't think that what Casey Jones LLC said in the past was very credible, and I see no reason why it should be necessarily taken as credible now," said resident Donald Topkis.
He added, ownership's explanation for the power failure did not give him any solace.
"I don't know how to translate those photographs, or that statement, into something that really caused the panels to blow as they did, I just don't know how to take it," Topkis said. "There's an alleged explanation that may or may not be valid."
Bernice Geiger, a spokeswoman for New Mexico's Regulation and Licensing Department, wrote in an email Tuesday her department's Construction Industries Division has not been made aware of last week's investigation.
"The [division] has not been provided or seen the investigation report referenced [in Casey Jones LLC's email Friday]," Geiger wrote. "We have no comment about Casey Jones' characterization about the power failures at Railyard Flats."