Courtesy of the Miami Herald
Posted July 30, 2005
ISLES BEACH -- Residents fighting to save
La Playa de Varadero III Condominium have until Aug. 23 to apply for
permits to make repairs necessary to bring the complex to code. If they
fail to do so, the building will face condemnation by Miami-Dade
County's unsafe structures board.
Engineers have said that catwalks that allow
access to La Playa's second floor units are rotted and unsafe.
The 56 residents suffered another setback when the
developer of the 51-story Acqualina, who last year purchased 51 of the
complex's 101 units through affiliate AQ Development, LLC, retained
control of the board at its yearly election Friday.
Added to the quagmire, AQ last month switched
ownership of its 51 units to a company by the name of LPLA Partners, LP.
Attorney Rebecca Henderson represents the 56
plaintiffs against AQ Development.
''We'll file an emergency injunction Monday to
prohibit this board from having any authenticity,'' Henderson said on
Friday. Phone calls Monday to find out if she had done so went
La Playa board attorney David Rogel acknowledged
that the developer of Acqualina doesn't have the best interest of the
condo in mind.
''What they're really trying to do is get control
of this building and knock it down and build another condo,'' Rogel
Residents fighting to save La Playa could be out
of punches. Residents need to come up with money to repair the complex,
and convince its new board that repairing the buildings is worthwhile.
A 40-year recertification report by Pistorino
& Alam Consulting Engineers Inc., says that La Playa's four
buildings each need about $1 million in repairs.
''I'm going to continue working with both sides
but if they don't apply for permits by Aug. 23 then I'll have to turn it
over to the unsafe structures board,'' Sunny Isles Beach Building
Official/Administrator Clay Parker said. Parker said the city wants to
do more tests but needs residents to cooperate by leaving the second
Alexander Fusco, a unit owner and new board
member, said fixing the building and paying lawyers is a combined waste
''The only feasible thing to do is to come to some
kind of a negotiation with the developer and get a fair price for the
remaining units,'' Fusco said. Units have sold for between $140,000 and
Other unit owners disagree.
''We want to pay the correct amount but not $4
million,'' for the repairs, La Playa resident Tranquilino Delgado said.
Fusco believes the people who are complaining
about the cost of repairing the building have only themselves to blame
and not the city or AQ.
City officials also deny claims by some residents
that the building department is against them.
''We have been trying our best to work with
them,'' City Attorney Hans Ottinot said. ``We're trying our best to stay
out of the fight between them and AQ.''