Article Courtesy of The Sun
September 18, 2010
FORT LAUDERDALE — Big banking won out
Thursday over a neighborhood's hopes that the city would order the
demolition of an abandoned condo complex that's become a haven for
Debris is strewn across the 58-unit complex
along the north fork of the New River. The doors and windows have been
stripped away. Vandals have destroyed walls and ripped out copper wiring
and plumbing. The city has been paying for metal shutters to keep away
City inspectors declared the New River
Condominium to be a health and fire hazard, but banks won two delays over
the summer to prevent its demolition. Residents of the River Gardens/Sweeting
Estates neighborhood had hoped Thursday would bring an end to the delay,
but instead a city board gave banks another 32 days to try to come up with
a plan to salvage the property.
The extension came even though the banks
offered the board no evidence of any plans being drawn up. They also had
failed to follow through on promises to pay for the shutters — which are
costing Fort Lauderdale
taxpayers $6,000 a month.
"This is an unsafe structure and there
has been delay after delay and continuance after continuance,"
neighborhood activist Pamela Adams said.
The neighborhood, along with city building
inspectors, began pressing in June to take the drastic step of razing the
five buildings just off Sistrunk Boulevard. The complex had been converted
to condos in 2005, but then came the recession and now almost every unit
is either owned by a bank or in the process of foreclosure.
There's been no running water for a year.
The condo association is defunct. Police officers refer to the area as The
Hole because it's where suspects on the run often disappear. Nearby
homeowners say drug-dealing and prostitution are rampant.
Bank lawyers told the city's Unsafe
Structures Board that they are committed to trying to find a way to
redevelop the property and understand the city's patience is at an end.
"I can't believe it is so unsafe that
it must be demolished immediately," said Justin Hekkanen, a lawyer
for Bank of America, which has an interest in about two-thirds of the
of the city board said the delay was almost certainly the last. Although
some of the board said the banks had had enough time to act, others feared
that demolition would guarantee the land sit vacant for years as a legal
fight ensues over what would happen next.
Complex Abandoned After Foreclosures Hit