'Inaccurate info' brought false structural concerns at iconic high-rise, The Royalton says

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Residents got through their first weekend away from their home at The Royalton high-rise, which is still not allowing people in as repairs are going on.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Royalton at River Oaks high-rise, where its residents have been kept out of since last Thursday, hit back at reports that the City of Houston pulled its occupancy permit, stressing that "at no time was the building's structural integrity compromised."

The video above is from a previous report: Residents from River Oaks condominium unsure when they'll be able to return amid structural concerns

A representative for the iconic 33-story building said on Tuesday that "inaccurate information" was being reported from the early stage of the tower's situation.

The Royalton at River Oaks sustained a water damage event that started under the floor of the back lobby, reps said in a new statement Tuesday.

The Houston Fire Department decided to evacuate the building after assessing the situation, according to The Royalton. With no electricity inside, residents lined up to trudge up flights of stairs to get clothes and medicine.

"From what we have been able to ascertain from engineering experts, a burst underground fire standpipe caused damage to the fire safety system," The Royalton said in a statement.

According to an email sent to residents on Thursday night, structural engineers were called to evaluate the building after the concrete on the first floor buckled.

Video obtained by ABC13 shows residents evacuating on Thursday evening in ankle-deep water through the lobby, some residents said water was pouring through elevator shafts.

Water main lines also ruptured on some residential floors, according to the email. Two remediation companies were working to repair the "extensive" water damage.

On Friday morning, The Royalton said engineering and architectural firm, Wiss, Janney Elstner Associates completed a preliminary assessment and declared the building to be structurally sound.

In The Royalton's statement, representatives said the City of Houston's Public Works department and Councilmember Abbie Kamin noted that "at no time did the city pull the Royalton's occupancy permit."

The assertion is counter to what the city told Eyewitness News on Friday, but the newest information does not offer a timeline for when residents will be able to return. Several residents said they have hired lawyers.

In part, The Royalton released the following statement on Tuesday:

The Royalton staff has worked around the clock assisting our residents in retrieving their personal belongings, pets, medications, and more. We immediately provided a list of hotel rooms at discounted rates offered to the residents for their convenience. The Royalton is collaborating with the City of Houston's Public Works department, the Houston Fire Department, category expert engineers, and others to address all outstanding issues and we are determined to get our residents back home as soon as possible. Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure the well-being of our residents.

SEE ORIGINAL STORY: The Royalton at River Oaks high-rise condo building evacuated amid structural concerns

WATCH: 13 Investigates uncovers past claim against evacuated high-rise