Workers climbed the roof of High Point Place high above the sky.
They looked like Spider-Man as they walked down the 29-story tower where roof construction continued.
While 29 stories may sound like an impressive height, it’s only surpassed in the region by the tower next door, which has 33 stories, or 35 if you make it to the rooftop terrace. There are a total of five towers and four low-rise buildings.
They form 50,000 square feet of roof that will require 57,000 tiles and 230,000 screws to complete the job.
The massive undertaking to replace the roof began in October, more than a year after Hurricane Irma hit the region in 2017. These are said to be the tallest buildings between Tampa and Miami.
“You know what happened after Irma. It was difficult to get someone to do something,” said Jean Turnbull, board member of the High Point Place Condominium Association.
Irma left destruction and a residue of damaged infrastructure. A year after the Category 3 storm in southwest Florida, thousands of homes still had the blue tarp over their roofs.
Not many of them were as challenging as repairs 300 feet in the air.
Turnbull, based at High Point Place since 2011, coordinates the efforts on the roof.
“You see these people crawling around up there,” she said. “It is interesting.”
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The work is expected to cost $ 2.8 million, Turnbull said. Irma didn’t damage the entire roof, but it raised enough tiles to be reconstructed on every surface of the towers, including the three-story buildings closer to the ground.
“(Irma) knocked off about 35 percent of the tiles,” Turnbull said. “If more than 25 percent is damaged, you have to change all of the roofs.”
On a recent weekday, workers strapped in belts walked across the roof and got ready to end the day.
Is it scary to work so high off the ground?
“You surpass fear after all,” replied one worker in Spanish.
Turnbull said the condos received three offers for work. Ultimately, Crowther Roofing and consultants from Scott Bonk & Associates, an umbrella consultancy, were selected.
“It’s a logistical nightmare on a normal construction site,” Turnbull said, but the footprint of High Point Place along the Caloosahatchee River near downtown made it more difficult.
The first thing to do was find a stage for building materials that was behind the archway entrance on First Street, Turnbull said.
From there, consultants and architects had to figure out how the tiles could be placed on the roofs. It was impossible to use a crane, said Turnbull.
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So they built a hoist that would carry a load of bricks onto the towers, Turnbull said.
“There was a lot of manual labor and a lot of ingenuity,” she said.
The first roof took three weeks, but since then the work has developed faster, she said.
Ruben Ponce, project manager at Crowther Roofing, said the work is expected to take until June. Around 20 employees are involved in the project. According to Ponce, Crowther built the original roof on High Point Place.
The weather needs to work together to move the work forward, Ponce said.
So far it has been because the rainy season hasn’t arrived, Ponce said, but the past colder days are proving to be problematic because there has been ice on the roof.
“It’s frozen in the morning,” said Ponce. “You have to wait for the ice to melt and you have to go up and start working.”
The most time consuming is lifting the tiles onto the floor. Before that can happen, workers will have to bring down the old roof tiles to bring up the new ones, he said. Less than 100 tiles can be moved in the container at the same time.
Ponce said he was enjoying seeing the end result of the project.
“You look around and you can see Fort Myers and the river. It’s beautiful,” said Ponce. “In this particular job you can see it from afar and I can say that this is a roof that I put on.”
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