Lifestyle

The owner of the Horizon West apartment in Waukesha recalls the fear of building a year later


WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) – Apartment owners reunited today, exactly one year after police forced them to evacuate their home in Waukesha for fear the building might collapse.

Forty-eight units are inside Horizon West Condos. The occupants recall feeling uncertain about that cold night. Some old people, some teenagers, are alone at home — now, with a common theme — they can’t shake the heartache.

“We’re still here. This hasn’t gone away for them,” said Diane McGeen, the owner’s daughter.

Diane McGeen’s 87-year-old mother has had a rough year, following a panic attack when she was forced to leave her fourth-floor home at Horizon West Condos.

“It’s almost like being on the Titanic when it sinks. Just 15 minutes, get out, you won’t be living here again,” McGeen said.

This is Horizon West Condos, on West Avenue in present-day Waukesha. A year ago it was declared unstructured.

“It’s panic everywhere, people in the hallway say it’s true? Is it true? Is this really happening?” McGee said.

The scars caused both physical and mental.

“When she moved, she had a stress fracture in her back and then that put her off. Then she started having more heart problems,” says McGeen.

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

“And before that she was vibrant, active and very healthy,” says McGeen.

Of the 48 affected families, we were told some were still homeless — living with a family member, sleeping on the couch. Some people who choose to rent an apartment have seen their credit take a hit because they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage.

“The past year has been very busy. The first two to three months I fell into quite a depression,” said Laurel Peterson, owner of the apartment.

Laurel Peterson showed us this photo of her daughter in their second-floor apartment before rushing out.

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

The condo owners tried their best to stick together, filing a travel insurance lawsuit for not paying the claims, but a judge ruled them out. The owners are appealing. Meanwhile, the city is trying to force apartment owners to pay for the demolition of the building.

“Of course, we’re all in a pinch financially, so it’s almost impossible for us to get that cash on our own,” says Peterson.

There will be a hearing in January where a Waukesha County judge is expected to review the demolition of the building.

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