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Torrey Highlands business forced to close due to ongoing leaks after storms

Posted at 8:00 AM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 11:00:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A small business owner in Torrey Highlands is dreading the next round of rain hitting San Diego due to ongoing leaks and flooding on her property.

The Stem Zone Maker Space is a relatively new business, born out of an idea during the pandemic. It's a place for kids and adults to get creative with hands-on, STEM-related crafts.

The business has been closed for almost a month after rain during Valentine's Day week came spilling inside. Founder and owner Carrie Herndon said over 34 ceiling tiles have either fallen or suffered water damage.

Since mid-February, weekly storms have brought even more rain inside the business.

"My computer got destroyed, everything that was on my desk destroyed, everything in our storage closet has been water damaged," said Herdon, who is a former teacher.

Herndon said she's been forced to cancel all workshops, birthday parties, and other events usually hosted at The Stem Zone. She's frustrated that the landlords and property managers haven't fixed the problem.

According to Herndon, she's asked to be let out of her lease, move to a vacant lot in the same shopping center, or stop paying rent while the issue is fixed, but she told ABC 10News those requests have been denied.

She also said she's now draining her savings and college fund for her kids to pay rent and stay afloat.

The property management company in charge, illi Commercial Real Estate, sent ABC 10News the following statement regarding the situation at the property:

Joint work between the ownerships has been/ is being performed including efforts to replicate the rain and leaks with a hose during the dry weather as Southern California anticipates more rain to come.

Remarkably heavy rains and winds have inundated Southern California and San Diego County challenging all flat roofs.

Property Management has had Professional Roofers, Plumbers, and Site Representatives out to the premises multiple times during the course of the leak (Four times in the past week alone, not including today's visit). The team will be on site again tomorrow.

Sourcing the leak above Stem Zone is difficult as it is located in a joint use building on the property that has apartments on the second floor which are owned and operated by the adjacent apartment building; The subject retail space in question is directly under these apartments.

Pursuant to the terms of their lease Stem Zone is required to carry Liability insurance. As an added measure of advisement, upon delivery of all premises in the portfolio we suggest that each tenant carries Business Interruption Coverage as well as Merchandise Protection Insurance which protects business owners from monetary damages from unprecedented events such as this.

Herndon said they do have insurance and are assessing the damages and waiting for the cause to find out if they are covered by their policy.