A licensed engineering firm has labeled longtime Colony Beach & Tennis Resort owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber’s home of almost 40 years “potentially hazardous and unsafe.”
The news sparked further outrage from Longboat Key town commissioners and gave them ammunition in their fight to convince Colony officials to tear down and rebuild the aging resort, instead of renovating it. Commissioners will meet with Colony developers Sept. 24, to further discuss the development and the need for a resort re-opening deadline extension.
The engineering report led Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Department officials to deem the building potentially unsafe, post warning signs around the building and ban people from entering it without permission from town staff.
“This makes me sick,” Klauber said. “This all could have been prevented.”
Longboat Key Building Official Wayne Thorne sent a letter to affected Colony Beach & Tennis Resort officials Sept. 12, informing them that ProNet Group Inc., a firm hired by Citizens Property Insurance to inspect the building, discovered major concerns.
ProNet Group officials observed steel-bar beams and joists sticking out above the roof, “which no longer support their intended design loads.”
In a letter to the town dated Sept. 5, ProNet Group explained that steel-bar joists supporting the southeast portion of the fifth floor are severely corroded, allowing the steel joists “to pull away from the east wall support and move downward.
“The current condition at these joists indicates that the floor framing system is no longer adequate to support the loads as originally designed,” the letter states. “Since this level of corrosion is consistent with long-term exposure to rain water/moisture migration, it is reasonable to conclude that this condition occurs at other areas and floors of the building.”
Vice Mayor David Brenner said the news wasn’t surprising.
“I knew this was coming,” Brenner said. “The buildings are falling apart, and it’s frustrating when grown people let their emotions get in the way of common sense.”
Klauber, who had residential and office units on the fifth and sixth floors of the building for 38 years, moved out of the building in July and told the Longboat Observer he had three buckets in his unit to catch water and that he had sustained water damage to artwork and furniture.
The company’s assessment prompted the town to mandate that a building permit is needed for repairs before the building can be used again. The notice states that any use or occupancy of the building is restricted and must be approved by the town’s building official.
In the meantime, to make sure the building is not a danger to other surrounding structures, the town mandated Colony officials hire an engineer to test the building’s floor and roof to assess its structural integrity. The engineer will provide recommendations to shore up the building where the steel beams, holding up the building, have been compromised.
In his letter to Colony officials, Thorne states a contractor must submit an application for a permit to fix the structure by Oct. 8, with work commencing on the building within 10 days of the permit being issued. Extensions needed to fix the building can only be submitted in writing to Thorne.
Thorne also notes that a remediation plan to remove mold from the building is being developed and also requires a building permit.
Colony Association President Jay Yablon said plans are in the works to fix structural issues, which he said primarily involves repairing a steel joist “with significant deterioration” that sits right below where Klauber’s private pool resides in the building.
Town Attorney David Persson, though, said the town is still working with Colony officials “to agree upon the final determination of the existing conditions of the building.”
Town Manager Dave Bullock said the town was not allowed into the mid-rise building to inspect it until last week and said town officials can’t inspect the conditions of the individual condominium units unless they are given permission by unit owners.
“What we do know is if they intend to open a unit, a building permit is required and that’s when the town can inspect those units for damage, as well,” Bullock said.
Commissioner Lynn Larson and others are hoping Colony officials decide not to refurbish the existing units.
“This news about the mid-rise only solidifies that Colony owners must be willing to do what’s best for the community and start over on this property,” Larson said. “It’s the smartest and safest thing to do.”
Larson said she would be willing to consider giving the Colony additional tourism units from a pool of 250 units if Colony officials agreed to tear down the resort and rebuild.
Longboat Key resident Manfred Welfonder’s MW Corp. has told commissioners in the past the property needed to be razed. He still believes his company has a viable plan to rebuild the resort.
“A renovation is not feasible, doable or possible,” Welfonder said.