Malfunctioning elevators leave residents of Northwest Miami-Dade condominium stranded

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald

By Enrique Flor 

Published January 3, 2015


For Mariano Borges, getting to a doctor’s appointment or going out for some fresh air becomes harder each day.

The 95-year-old Cuban gets around on a wheelchair. His 70-year-old daughter Maria Perez and his 50-year-old granddaughter Cary can barely lift his wheelchair to carry it up and down the stairs to the third-floor unit where they live in Northwest Miami-Dade.

It’s been almost six years since the elevators of the building where Borges lives and those of three other buildings in the Mirassou condominium complex do not work properly.


According to public records, Miami-Dade County has cited Mirassou with fines exceeding $5 million.

“The truth is that we made a huge mistake buying an apartment in this place,” said Borges’ daughter. “It’s been years since we had a working elevator and despite our complaints, nobody fixes it.”

Michael Chavez, manager of Miami-Dade’s Office of Elevator Safety, said that when the elevators of the three and four-story buildings at the Mirassou began malfunctioning in 2008, the county sent out infraction notifications.

The violation penalties amounted to $5,065,120.

According to Chavez, authorities have sent out more than 5,000 notifications in the past six years requesting that the condominium association repair the elevators. But that has yet to be done.

Several elderly residents and disabled residents who live at the Mirassou condominium in Northwest Miami-Dade have had to rely on relatives and neighbors to help them up and down the stairs. The elevators in the building have been broken for years. In this photo, Aida Ortiz holds documents outlining complaints while Miguel Corral, another resident, looks on.

Marlene Leon, president of the Mirassou Association of Proprietors, declined to comment about the problems affecting the condominium complex, which includes a total of seven buildings and 310 apartments.

Representatives of the company that manages the complex, Florida Property Management (FPM), did not respond to several phones from el Nuevo Herald seeking comment.

In an email, Chavez said that Mirassou’s condo association often argued that they “didn’t have money to repair the elevators.”

According to neighbors, maintenance fees for the complex varies depending on the size of the unit but most residents pay about $300 per month.

“Everything that’s happening here is worrisome,” said Aida Ortiz, a resident who has lived at Mirassou for eight years. “The elevators don’t work and the people who suffer the most are elderly people and people with disabilities who have to constantly be helped by their families and neighbors to move up and down the stairs.”

“For years we’ve complained and it’s just gotten worse,” she said.

Maintenance problems also have affected common areas at the Mirassou condominium located at 6075 NW 186 Street. One of the two pools at the residential complex was shut down and has been chained under lock and key for months.

According to neighbors, the mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 brought forth the foreclosure of several of the complex’s units. Since then, the inhabitants of the properties facing foreclosure remained in the apartments waiting to be evicted but without paying for any services. But as of the last couple of years, the majority of the apartments have been rented again.

Almost directly in front of Ortiz’s apartment, on a second floor, lives David Jones, a 10-year-old who has a congenital malformation known as Spina Bifida, and who also gets around on a wheelchair. In order to leave the building, his 19-year-old brother Aikem must carry him up and down the stairs.

“We do this because the elevator has been broken for several years,” David Jones said.

Miguel Corral, a Venezuelan who bought a two-bedroom unit on the second floor seven years ago, decided to move in October 2013. He lived there with his mother, an 80-year-old woman who uses a walker. The elevator was broken then, too, as far back as 2009, Corral said.

“It frustrates us, the level of indifference that the directors of the association and of the company that administers the condominium have shown,” said Corral. “No one shows face to try to find a solution.”