Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Owners' Tower Return Delayed

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Owners' Tower Return Delayed

Article excerpt

DOLPHIN'S DENIZENS: Complications in efforts to repair a vacated high-rise

SARASOTA

It will be at least another year before homeowners in Dolphin Tower, the downtown condominium tower vacated in July 2010 because of severe structural damage, will be able to move back into the 15- story building.

Proposed repair work has again been stalled on several fronts:

Because of budget limitations, Dolphin Tower's homeowners' association has decided to replace only parts of a key fourth-floor concrete slab that cracked and led to the 117-unit building's mandatory evacuation.

Previously, building leaders had said the entire slab -- upon which all of the 39-year-old tower's residences sit -- would need replacing. The slab also is key because it transfers weight throughout the structure.

Following a dispute over who would pick up the firm's liability insurance, the highly regarded firm the association tapped last year to do structural repairs, Structural Group Inc., has dropped out of the project.

The association also has yet to apply for a building permit from the city to do the necessary structural repairs.

As a result, Dolphin Tower's condominium board is awaiting three new bids from contractors interested in picking up Structural Group's work at the tower, 101 S. Gulfstream Ave.

That work is expected to cost at least $9 million.

Association president Charlotte Ryan said earlier this year that she expected homeowners would be back in their units by Christmas.

On Friday, she declined to offer a new timetable.

"It is not definite," Ryan said. "I hope by the end of 2014, but I have no guarantee of that at all."

Ryan added, however, that required interior demolition work, which will provide access to structural elements, has been completed.

City officials had been working with Dolphin Tower representatives on the rehabilitation, but there, too, progress has slowed.

"We have not heard from them in a while," said Gretchen Schneider, general manager of planning and development for the city.

While Dolphin Tower's association lacks enough capital to fully replace the two-foot-thick concrete slab, it has succeeded in getting a majority of unit owners to pay maintenance fees -- which total roughly $6,000 annually -- and special assessments for repair work and consultants. …

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