An engineer conducted a walk-through assessment of the Santa Clara Condominiums on Thursday and ruled the units and building are habitable, the president of the homeowners’ association said.
The engineer conducted the walk-through, not a full-blown inspection, of the 111-unit condominium building after the City of Key West sent the association a letter stating the building had so many structural issues that it may have to be condemned.
“We had an engineer go through the building on Thursday and ruled it’s habitable,” said Ollie Kofoid, Santa Clara board president, told The Key West Citizen.
Kofoid acknowledged that the building needs substantial repairs, which some estimates total between $8 million and $10 million. The homeowners association plans to hold an assessment meeting on Sept. 16, where the board will talk about financing the repairs, Kofoid said.
Currently, monthly homeowner associations dues are between $500 and $800, Kofoid said.
“We are going to have to raise the monthly fees substantially,” Kofoid said.
City of Key West building officials will hold an emergency meeting on Monday morning to determine if the building will have to be condemned or if the residents can stay in the building while a plan is put in place and the repairs are completed.
“I think we have it all covered,” Kofoid said. “We have confidence in our engineer. I think we can show the city we are acting in good faith. I don’t think we are getting condemned, and the building will stay open. People are going to be able to stay. This is affordable housing ... These are our homes and we want them to be safe.”
Kofoid acknowledged the building was in need of repairs and “Hurricane Irma increased the speed of the deterioration.”
The City of Key West’s top building official has filed a petition to declare the Santa Clara Condominiums unsafe for habitation and told the condo association he will condemn the 111-unit building, if necessary.
Key West Chief Building Official Raj Ramsingh filed the petition to declare the building unsafe on Sept. 1.
Ramsingh said the structure, at 3312 Northside Drive, is dangerous and unfit, and uninhabitable if not corrected immediately.
His inspection of the seven-story property on Aug. 28 revealed the following:
• Major concrete cracks in wall and stairwells;
• Exposed steel at vertical columns;
• Floors and roofs which have improperly distributed loads, which are overloaded, or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purposes used; and
• Damage by wind or other causes as endangers the lives, safety or welfare of the occupants or other people in the city.
Ramsingh noted in his petition J.L. Sander, P.E., Consulting Engineer, provided the city an unfavorable inspection report of the property.
Monday’s administrative hearing is scheduled at 10 a.m. in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall, 1300 White St. At the hearing, Ramsingh will be presented evidence and will determine whether the property will be condemned and/or if any other legal measures are deemed appropriate.
ICAMCO, the property’s management company sent a letter to the condo association’s board of directors terminating its current contract with the association.
“Due to the non-action of the Board of Directors and a potential condemnation of the building by the City of Key West, we can no longer be responsible for the management of your association,” the letter states.
Key West City Commissioner Sam Kaufman issued a press release on Friday, stating he is “working with local and federal agencies to identify potential resources for displaced residents/families in the event that a condemnation order is rendered by the CBO.”
Concerned residents at the Santa Clara Condominiums may call Kaufman’s office at 305-809-3844 or his cellphone at 305-304-5848 or email him at email@example.com.
The city inspected several buildings after the Surfside condominium complex collapse in June. The city did send a letter to the owners of the Ocean Walk apartments off South Roosevelt Boulevard notifying them of structural issues at that complex that needed to be repaired.
The city noted some “major concrete cracks” in the walls on the first floor and “exposed steel vertical columns,” the report stated. The owners have shored up some of the walls and are in the process of making other repairs to correct all outstanding issues, Ramsingh said.