Rochester condo building residents out at least a month amid structural worries

An exterior view of a condo building.
The property manager of the Rochester Towers condominiums is warning residents they may be out more than a month as engineers and officials work to remedy the building's structural problems.
Catharine Richert | MPR News

Updated 4:10 p.m.

Residents of a 15-story condo building in downtown Rochester won't be able to return home for weeks after being evacuated on Friday.

In an email to Rochester Towers residents, property manager FirstService Residential said condos would be off limits for at least a month and encouraged the 180 residents to find long-term accommodations.

The building was evacuated Friday afternoon after a structural engineer alerted authorities to concerns about at least one column. It’s since been shored up but it is “not considered a full long-term fix that the building will require,” the city said in a statement Tuesday. 

Engineers are continuing to assess the entire building and officials will have a better idea of timelines when that work is done, the city added.

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Late Tuesday afternoon, the condo board's attorney described the situation in a statement as concern over “a weakened column discovered during a routine inspection” and that engineers were reviewing all structural parts of the building out of an “abundance of caution.”

two safety barriers, a truck, a car and a view of a condo
View of the 15-story building recently evacuated taken Monday.
Catharine Richert | MPR News

While temporary lodging has been provided, some residents remain concerned for their neighbors.

Amy Abts is an artist and musician who was among those who hastily evacuated late last week. She's living with her parents in the interim but said many residents are elderly and she's concerned about where they will go. She also said she can't access necessities she needs to do her job.

“I have a show on Saturday. My guitar is in there, my lyrics, all my art supplies and all my art,” she said. “I can't really do anything until I start getting that stuff — and all my clothes."

Residents are able to get medications or other emergency supplies if they need them.

No injuries were reported in the evacuation.

The Rochester Towers evacuation came less than a week after a six-story apartment building in Iowa partially collapsed.