Handicap access suit at 1717 Ridge settled

1717 Ridge Ave.

The developer and architect for the 1717 Ridge rental apartment building have settled a handicap accessibility lawsuit filed against them by the housing advocacy agency Open Communities.

The agreement settles Open Communities’ claims that Focus Development and architect Booth Hansen discriminated against people with disabilities by designing and constructing the eight-story building without required accessibility and adaptability features.

In the settlement Focus has agreed to make alterations to the building over the next five years so the apartments and all common areas will be accessible for people with disabilities.

The renovations will make bathrooms and kitchens useable for wheelchair users. Threshold obstructions will be eliminated so wheelchair users have access to the balconies. In the common areas, mailboxes will be lowered and the parking spaces in the garage will be restriped or otherwise modified to allow entrance without obstruction by columns.

Outside the building, a curb cut on Ridge Avenue will be added to allow access into the building.

The two firms will also pay a total of $175,000 to Open Communities for damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

In the litigation, Focus and Booth Hansen denied Open Communities’ allegations with respect to discrimination, disagreed with the interpretations of Open Communities’ expert witness and agreed to settle the disputed claim to avoid the cost and disruption of protracted litigation.