Developer Geoff Palmer has produced an impressive list of enemies in his quest to speckle the LA map with his trademark Italy-meets-Epcot-meets-dormitory megafortress apartment complexes. Everyone from skybridge detractors to Yelp reviewers want his throat for one reason or another. Now add to that list the city of Los Angeles itself. City officials are claiming that the 2014 fire that destroyed the controversial Da Vinci apartment complex was Palmer's fault. According to the LA Times, Palmer has been hit with a $20 million lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney. The suit alleges that Palmer was negligent in failing to incorporate "key safety measures" into his Da Vinci Apartments development.
The whole Da Vinci incident did not sit well with City Hall. City Attorney Mike Feuer says the city is trying to recoup taxpayer losses that could have been avoided if the Da Vinci had been "better constructed." The suit claims the Da Vinci fire was the result of poor construction and fire safety planning on the part of Palmer.
According to the lawsuit, the Da Vinci did not have "an appropriate fire protection plan" or provide proper security outside the construction site to protect it from arson. The suit alleges that Palmer failed to compartmentalize construction, which allowed the blaze to spread freely throughout the worksite. The lawsuit also claims that the apartment building did not have fire walls or doors or even the water supply necessary to fight a fire on the property.
The Da Vinci was a bit of a recipe for disaster from the get-go. It was a wood-framed building—which are far cheaper than constructing a steel framed structure—and its frame went up like kindling. LA Fire Department Battalion Chief David Perez estimated at the time that 80 percent of the building was fully engulfed in less that 15 minutes. He went on to call the Da Vinci fire "by far the biggest single fire in an urban area" he'd ever seen.
The blaze did significant damage to the neighboring buildings and closed the freeway. Heat from the Da Vinci fire damaged the Department of Health offices across the street and cracked 160 windows at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building over 400 feet from the fire. The spreading flames even ignited a fire at the nearby Figueroa Plaza complex and melted freeway signs on the 110.
Despite the fire and city lawsuit, Palmer's work lives on. He called the Da Vinci fire a "temporary loss" and vowed to rebuild in 10 months. Now, some thirteen months later, the Da Vinci redux is currently looming over the 110 Freeway, skybridge and all, just as it did before. Not even a blazing inferno the likes of which LA has never seen can bring down Geoff Palmer.
· L.A. files $20-million lawsuit against Da Vinci Apartments developer over huge downtown fire [LAT]
· 9 Weird Facts About Fighting Downtown's Massive Da Vinci Fire [Curbed LA]
· 6 Best Zingers On DTLA's Controversial Fauxtalian Skybridge [Curbed LA]
· Geoff Palmer's Burned Da Vinci Apartments Will be Back in Under a Year [Curbed LA]