Insurer Fightsdemolition Of Key Tower
By Marilyn Bowden
John Hinson, developer of The Ocean Club at Key Biscayne, can’t get his own building torn down.
He says Ocean Tower One, weakened by fire damage during a construction site blaze April 6, could become a hurricane hazard if the site’s insurance carrier continues to block demolition.
The City of Key Biscayne issued a demolition order April 20 after engineering reports showed the tower was "unstable and unsafe and could fail at any minute," says Eugenio Santiago, Village building official.
The order gave Ocean Club Development 30 days to complete demolition.
Reliance National Indemnity asked Ocean Club to appeal the order, Mr. Hinson says. When he refused, the insurance company filed its own appeal to stay the decision until a meeting of the county’s Unsafe Structures Board held last week.
Less than 48 hours after the board voted 5-1 against the appeal, Reliance filed an emergency motion to stop the tower’s shell from coming down, claiming the order doesn’t give the company enough time to seek a restraining order from the Circuit Court.
"The Village of Key Biscayne, the County’s Unsafe Structures Board and our own building professionals all agree that the South Florida Building Code requires demolition, that the shell of the structure is too damaged to be repaired safely and that the building needs to come down," Mr. Hinson says. "Every day that Reliance engages in legal maneuvers to delay the demolition and construction of Ocean Tower One means more risk and less safety.
"This structure needs to be demolished now, before the start of hurricane season, which begins next week."
He says Ocean Club has hired Controlled Demolition, a Maryland-based firm that staged the implosion of Brickell’s Esp°rito Santo Bank last week, to take down Ocean One.