Just as with Jardins d’Apolline which has 237 apartments, the Helios complex of 68 apartments, at the foot of the Rock, is also experiencing problems with damp. The apartments were built under a strict environmental code which led to the use of environmentally friendly materials including wood fibre. What made good sense from an environmental point of view led to exacerbated problems when plumbing and other leaks (similar to Jardins d’Apolline) led to excess moisture, damp and high humidity. The wood fibre became impregnated with damp, evidenced by the appearance of mold on its surface.
Repair work has been initiated apartment by apartment, but one can imagine some of the disruption caused by the constant comings and goings of workers. And it has been reported in the French Press, following interviews with the residents’ association, that even some of the newly renovated apartments are experiencing further damp problems. The essence of those reports is that there are about 29 apartments affected and there is an increasing call for all the wood fibre to be removed, and a temporary reduction in rents considered to compensate for the inconvenience.
The association of Monegasque residents is presided over by Stephane Lobono and is exploring with the Government representative Albert Croesi how to expedite the solution to the damp problems – and how to minimise their impact on the Monegasque tenants. There are additional issues, particularly on the second floor where it has been reported there is poor workmanship affecting window frames and awnings, allowing damp to also penetrate from outside.
The question is whether to take a similar approach at Helios as to that taken at Jardins d’Apolline. This would entail a wholesale relocation of residents effected and thus have all the necessary renovation work done at once, over a period of several months.
Helios also houses one of the largest “crèches”, if not the largest, in the Principality (namely sixty places at L’ile aux Bambins) where parents can leave children, typically between ages two months up to three or four years old. Damp has also been detected there and a decision has recently been taken to take bold moves to deal with it. This entails closing the crèche for the remainder of this year to do the necessary repairs and renovations. There is an active program of reassignment going on to ensure those with places in the Helios crèche are accommodated from this September in the other 12 crèches in Monaco – and including the special nurseries called “halte-garderie”. This obviously puts pressure on the total number of creche places available in Monaco – which means, for a few months at least, new applications (or ones not yet approved) will likely need to wait for capacity to return to normal before a decision can be taken to offer places – that is at least until when the Helios crèche is reopened in 2019.