One Year After the Building Scare, Horizon West Condo Owners in Waukesha Reflect

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) — Condo owners gathered together today, exactly one year after being forced to evacuate their homes in Waukesha due to concerns about the building’s structural integrity. Horizon West Condos, which housed forty-eight units, left its occupants feeling uncertain and afraid. From the elderly to teenagers, some living alone, they all shared…

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) — Condo owners gathered together today, exactly one year after being forced to evacuate their homes in Waukesha due to concerns about the building’s structural integrity.

Horizon West Condos, which housed forty-eight units, left its occupants feeling uncertain and afraid. From the elderly to teenagers, some living alone, they all shared the heartbreak they couldn’t escape.

Diane McGeen, daughter of a condo owner, expressed that their plight hasn’t diminished: “We’re still here. This hasn’t gone away for them.”

McGeen’s 87-year-old mother had a difficult year following the panicked evacuation from their fourth-floor home in Horizon West Condos: “It was almost like being on the Titanic when it sunk. It was 15 minutes, get out, you won’t be able to live here ever again,” McGeen shared.

Today, Horizon West Condos on West Avenue in Waukesha stands as a reminder of the past. It was declared structurally unsound a year ago. McGeen described the panic that ensued: “It was panic everywhere, people in the hallways saying is it true? Is it true? Is this really happening?”

The ordeal left both physical and emotional scars. McGeen shared, “Moving, she had a stress fracture in her back and then that set her off. And then she started having more heart issues.” Currently, Ione Kohler, McGeen’s mother, is back in the hospital for the sixth time in the past year.

Out of the 48 families affected, some are still homeless, while others are living with relatives or sleeping on couches. Those who chose to rent apartments suffered damage to their credit due to mortgage payment struggles.

Laurel Peterson, a condo owner, admitted that the past year had been very challenging. She showed a photo of her daughter in their second-floor condo before the evacuation: “We grabbed what we could. We didn’t know where we were gonna go, what exactly was going on.”

Despite their hardships, the condo owners have stuck together and filed a lawsuit against travelers insurance for not paying their claims. However, the owners received an unfavorable ruling from a judge and are currently appealing. Meanwhile, the city is pressuring the condo owners to pay for the demolition of the building.

Peterson expressed the financial strain: “Of course, we are all in financial straits, so for us to come up with that kind of cash on our own is next to impossible.” There will be a hearing in January where a Waukesha County judge will weigh the demolition of the building.

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