Sunday 17 December 2017

Site of Berkeley balcony collapse rebranded to 'hide all traces of the tragedy'

The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke
The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke
Police tape blocks off a section of Kittredge Street in front the Library Gardens apartment building where balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Workers remove part of a balcony that collapsed at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The apartment complex where six Irish students lost their lives has been completely re-branded, according to US reports.

The building, once called Library Gardens, is now known as the K Street Flats.

According to Berkeleyside.com the building at 2020 Kittredge St has also changed colour to "hide all traces of the tragedy". It is no longer a Mediterranean-style yellow but a bright blue.

And the two balconies that once faced onto the street have been removed, leaving a flat face to the large apartment complex.

One reader alerted the website to the change and spoke of their shock at the changes.

"I drive by Library Gardens daily (with my Berkeley High student), and watched with interest as they repainted the buildings after the balcony collapse tragedy," a reader recently emailed the website. "Tonight (Jan. 15), I noticed the building formerly known as Library Gardens is now being touted as K Street Flats. Not surprising that the companies that own and manage this complex would want to separate themselves from this tragedy, but clearly, they are moving with some speed to rebrand the complex."

A vigil in Peace Park near the scene for the Berkeley victims the night after the collapse. Photo: Getty Images
A vigil in Peace Park near the scene for the Berkeley victims the night after the collapse. Photo: Getty Images

Pictures of the freshly painted and rebranded complex were carried online.

Five J1 students Olivia Burke, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Lorcan Miller, all 21, died after they were thrown four floors to the ground during a friend’s birthday party in the university city of Berkeley. Ms Burke’s cousin, 22-year-old Ashley Donohoe from California, also died in the tragedy on June 16, 2015.

In April, Judge Brad Seligman ruled that the survivors and families of victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse can sue for additional punitive damages.

It means the survivors and families can sue the owners Granite Library Gardens LP, management company and the lead firm involved in the construction of the newly rebranded building in Berkeley for additional damages paid on top of basic compensation, which are designed to discourage similar conduct in future.

They also claim the construction firm was negligent in its use of materials and the standard of waterproofing work done.

The lawsuits are proceeding after a decision in March 2016 by the district attorney of Alameda County not to file criminal charges, citing an inability to prove manslaughter through negligence beyond a reasonable doubt.

The companies have all denied they were at fault for the collapse of the balcony in June 2015.

The cases are currently at a pre-trial phase and are likely to be heard in full in 2017.

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