Horizon West Condo owners in Waukesha remember the construction scare a year later

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) — Condo owners rallied today, exactly one year after police forced them to evacuate their Waukesha homes, fearing the building might collapse.

Forty-eight units are located at Horizon West Condos. The occupants recall feelings of uncertainty that cold night. Some elderly, some teenagers, alone at home — now, with a common thread — the heartbreak they can’t shake.

“We’re still here. It just didn’t work out for them,” said Diane McGeen, daughter of the condo owner.

Diane McGeen’s 87-year-old mother has had a rough year, after the panic of being forced out of her fourth-floor home at Horizon West Condos.

“It was almost like being on the Titanic when it went down. It was 15 minutes, get out, you can never live here again,” McGeen said.

This is Horizon West Condos, on West Avenue in Waukesha today. A year ago, it was declared structurally unsound.

“It was panic everywhere, people in the corridors saying is it true? Is it true? Is this really happening?” McGeen said.

The scars were both physical and emotional.

“Moving around she had a stress fracture in her back and that set it off. And then she started having more heart problems,” McGeen said.

Right now, Ione Kohler is back at the hospital, his sixth trip in the last year.

“And before that she was so vibrant and active and so healthy,” McGeen said.

Of the 48 families affected, we have learned that some are still homeless: they live with a family member, they sleep on couches. Some who chose to rent an apartment have seen their credit take a hit because they could no longer pay their mortgage.

“The last year has been very hectic. The first two or three months I was in a pretty deep depression,” said homeowner Laurel Peterson.

Laurel Peterson showed us this photo of her daughter in her second floor apartment before the rush to leave.

“We grabbed what we could. We didn’t know where we were going to go, what exactly was going on,” Peterson said.

The condo owners have tried their best to stick together, filing a lawsuit against Travelers Insurance for failing to pay the claims, but a judge ruled against them. The owners are attractive. Meanwhile, the city is trying to force condo owners to pay to demolish the building.

“Of course, we’re all in financial trouble, so coming up with that kind of cash on our own is almost impossible,” Peterson said.

There is a hearing in January where a Waukesha County judge is expected to consider demolishing the building.

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