City to pay nearly $156K to owner of building damaged in April 2016 sinkhole repairs

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Image via ABC2.

Two years after a sinkhole collapsed a section of W. Centre Street near Park Avenue in Mount Vernon, the city is set to pay nearly $156,000 to the owner of a nearby property who sued after water damaged his building amid repairs.

The city’s spending board is set to approve a $155,765 settlement tomorrow in a lawsuit filed by 513 Park Avenue LLC, the owner of the property. “Claimant’s real property sustained damage because of the deviation of storm water in connection with the repair of the nearby sinkhole,” the agenda says.

The agenda describes “deviation of storm water in connection with the repair of the nearby
sinkhole” as the cause of the damage to 513 Park Avenue. Asked for comment, a Department of Public Works spokesperson referred Baltimore Fishbowl to the Law Department.

City Solicitor Andre Davis explained a bit further in an email: “During repairs to the water infrastructure and the street after the sinkhole formed, we had one or more big storms and the excessive storm water overran the temporary infrastructure that was in place during repairs.”

That, in turn, “caused the Park Avenue structure to suffer damage to its foundation and other damage, including rental losses, which we carefully scrutinized,” Davis said. “That’s really it; the city definitely had some potential exposure and we did the right thing to avoid actual litigation.”

State tax records indicate the property, an office building, was sold to its eponymous LLC in 2012 for $385,000. The company and property’s owners could not be immediately reached for comment.

The April 2016 sinkhole on W. Centre Street occurred due to a broken 6-foot sewer line—“specifically a four-foot hole in the top of it,” DPW said in 2016—causing the road to partially collapse. It was one of several major sinkholes that damaged and closed Mount Vernon and Midtown roads that year; others popped up on Mulberry Street on July 4 weekend (you may recall that a worker fell in) and on Cathedral Street in October.

The Law Department said it is dealing with one other lawsuit connected to the April 2016 sinkhole. Davis said the claim “remains under investigation.”

The W. Centre Street hole cost $4.5 million to repair, DPW said. The city reopened the road roughly six months later.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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