Life and times of Key Biscayne florida


July 17th, 2014

Latest entry block battle: demolition of buildings


 ueling letters from earlier this month raise a new issue for Key Biscayne’s entry block: should the buildings be torn down immediately at the owner’s expense, or can demolition wait until redevelopment plans for the site are finalized?
Entry block owners are crying foul over Village demands they demolish the buildings at 12 and 24 Crandon Boulevard; they dispute a finding that the structures are unsafe, and say Building, Zoning and Planning officials told them they’d wait to take any action regarding the former La Carreta restaurant and Stefano’s nightclub until a site plan for a Walgreens pharmacy and liquor store at the entry block was ready to be built.
Meanwhile, local officials maintain their request is a valid reaction to a recent inspection: a letter from Key Biscayne Chief Building Official Eugenio Santiago states the structures are unsafe and present a fire hazard due to deterioration, open doors and windows, lack of water and electrical service and even a partially caved-in roof.
The standoff is currently at a standstill:
After receiving Santiago’s July 8 letter stating the buildings must come down in 60 days, David Puyanic, President of entry block owner Commodore Realty, penned a response July 16 disputing the findings and demanding the Village withdraw its request.
There’s no word on a response from the Village yet: Santiago did not return a call for comment, and BZP Director Jud Kurlancheek’s voicemail stated he was out of the office until mid-week.
The latest war of words between Commodore Realty and the Village played out over the past two weeks.
In his July 8 letter, which was provided to The Islander by Commodore, Santiago states, “The structure is vacant, unguarded and open at its doors and window. There is an accumulation of debris and/or other material inside the structure, creating a hazard of combustion.”
He also cites hazards from a lack of electrical service, unsanitary conditions due to no running water, significant deterioration and damage to all major components including plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, and, “The structure is also partially destroyed, including the roof, parts of which have collapsed.”
Santiago writes that those conditions violate Miami-Dade County’s Unsafe Structures Code, and his letter gives Commodore 30 days to obtain demolition permits and 60 days to complete the work, or 30 days to appeal the decision to the County’s Unsafe Structures Board.
But Puyanic, in a July 16 letter, denies the buildings are unsafe and asks the Village to withdraw its request based on an email agreement with Kurlancheek. Puyanic said the BZP chief told him the Village wouldn’t take action related to the buildings until the Walgreens site plan is resolved.
“The property owner is not in accord with the contents of your letter and rejects your claims that the buildings are a fire hazard or unsafe structure,” Puyanic writes.
He adds considering the contentious history of the Walgreens project and that his company has two lawsuits pending over a condition in the Village Council approval of the plan that would ban cross-access between the entry block and adjacent Harbor Plaza, “The recent letter demanding the buildings be torn down must have been issued in error, or it would be easy to see how these most recent letters could be considered harassment and an abuse of the Village’s police powers.”
Puyanic states that’s especially true considering the agreement he has with Kurlancheek:
He writes the Village last year requested a 40-year recertification of the buildings – commercial structures must be certified structurally and electrically safe for their intended use and occupancy 40 years after getting their original Certificate of Occupancy – but Kurlancheek stated in a September 2013 email he would delay the process until a decision on the site plan.
In the email, provided by Commodore, Kurlancheek states to Puyanic that 40-year certification will be “on hold until the Council votes on your site plan and conditional use applications.”
Puyanic’s letter acknowledges the Council did issue a conditional approval in March, but, “That resolution is still open as a result of two pending appeals of the resolution, which prohibits the property owner from moving forward with the planned work.”
Puyanic adds even when the site plan issues are resolved, the proper course of action wouldn’t be for the Village to demand demolition, but to pick up with the 40-year recertification. That process gives Commodore 90 days to complete a report, 90 days after that to get permits for any required work, and 180 after permits are issued to complete the work or demolish the structures.
Of course, the preferred option for the developer would be that Walgreens move forward with construction at the site, in which case the drug store chain would bear the cost of demolition – as Commodore Chief Operating Officer Max Puyanic confirmed, that is part of the agreement with the company. Puyanic estimated the cost of demolition “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
However, the latest word from Walgreens reps is that they’re “reviewing the Council’s proposal and will continue to work to find a solution that is best for our customers and the community.”
And with not only Commodore’s lawsuits, but one from resident Luis Lauredo, still pending, it could be a while before a final resolution is reached.
That leaves Commodore and the BZP Department to work out a solution to the latest brouhaha – and if they can’t, Santiago’s letter explains the steps the Village could take.
It notes if Commodore doesn’t comply with the order, the Village will demolish the structures at its own cost, and that cost would then be transferred to the property owner as a lien on the property.

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