Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Carrollwood, a mansion interrupted gets attention of code enforcers, neighbor

Simon Canasi stands on a neighboring lot outside the site of what he calls Chernobyl, a mansion interrupted in the Lakeside Terrace subdivision. “I got a back yard full of monkey bars,” Canasi says.

Richard Danielson | Times

Simon Canasi stands on a neighboring lot outside the site of what he calls Chernobyl, a mansion interrupted in the Lakeside Terrace subdivision. “I got a back yard full of monkey bars,” Canasi says.

CARROLLWOOD — At nearly 25,000 square feet, the partly built mansion on Lake Ellen was meant to be someone's dream home.

Instead, its rusting skeleton is Simon Canasi's nightmare.

"I call it Chernobyl," said Canasi, 52, a Smith Barney financial adviser who lives behind the unfinished hulk. "I got a back yard full of monkey bars. ... It's disgusting."

The construction site, at the end of Lake Ellen Lane in the Lakeside Terrace subdivision, once was home to the state headquarters of the Salvation Army.

But in 2004, the charity sold the property for $3.1 million to a company led by the son of entrepreneur Pradip C. Patel.

After emigrating from India in 1973, Patel bought a motel near Busch Gardens. But he made his fortune with his brother, Dr. Kiran Patel, by co-founding the WellCare HMO and building it into a billion-dollar business.

Soros Private Equity Group bought WellCare in 2002 for more than $200 million, according to a Web site for Naidip Capital, a real estate investment business that Pradip Patel now runs.

A construction permit that Patel pulled in 2005 describes a two-story showplace with five bedrooms and 41/2 baths. Plans called for a home theater, grand hall, library, temple, spa and elevator. The plans also indicated the house was being built for Patel, 57, and his wife, Naini.

Patel wants to complete the project, but the recession has hampered his efforts, said Sam Aref, whose company is working on site plans for the project and the site cleanup.

Canasi complains loudly about the house, Aref said, but other neighbors do not.

Patel is looking to downsize the mansion, on which he has already spent at least $1.5 million, Aref said.

"Why would anybody give that up?" Aref said. "Ultimately, he wants to finish it, but with the bad times that we're going through, you tell me, how can he finish it?"

At this point, the site is home to a large frame of steel girders and a half-dozen concrete columns. The white plastic pipes for the home's plumbing stick up like stalks of corn. Construction on the house stopped two years ago, Canasi said.

Patel's Lake Ellen home had an active construction permit until April 2008, Hillsborough County officials say. After the permit expired, they said the problem was not brought to their attention until this spring, when they heard from Canasi.

After that, county officials considered tearing the thing down themselves.

"We've looked at it from every possible angle," county code enforcement director Dexter Barge told county commissioners last month. But, he said, "we don't have that legal authority at this time to go in and actually demolish the structure."

Commissioners told their attorneys to send Patel a letter demanding that he clean up the property.

"This is a detriment to that community," Commissioner Jim Norman said.

Code enforcement inspectors have cited Patel's company for accumulations of debris, not having a construction permit and allowing the property to become a public nuisance.

The Code Enforcement Board is scheduled to consider the matter on June 12. The board can levy fines of $1 to $1,000 for each day that the violations continue.

In response, Aref agreed to have the property cleaned up and volunteered to use concrete blocks already on the property to build a wall shielding neighbors' view.

The wall is one of the conditions the county required when it rezoned the land for the project, said Jim Blinck, the county's manager for code enforcement operations. The wall is not part of the code enforcement case, but Blinck said inspectors are requiring that the concrete blocks be removed.

On Wednesday, Aref met with Blinck and two other code enforcement officials on the property, where workers have hauled off debris, repaired a boat dock and cut down vegetation.

"It looks much, much better than it did," Blinck told Aref. Still, he said the property owner needs to cut down overgrown bushes directly behind Canasi's property, take care of the piles of blocks, fix a few more things at the dock — and finish the house.

Blinck said he would likely recommend that the Code Enforcement Board require that construction of the wall begin and the overgrown plants be cut down within 30 days.

"If, in fact, there is a wall that's coming up, I welcome that wall just as long as he makes my side pretty," Canasi said.

Canasi isn't alone in feeling like the project has left him hanging.

Rairigh Construction Management filed a $338,659 lien against the property in February. The company said it had not been paid for acting as the project's general contractor.

Ray Rairigh said he never got a clear explanation why the project was shut down.

"We haven't been involved in quite some time," he said. "We are as clueless as anyone else."

In Carrollwood, a mansion interrupted gets attention of code enforcers, neighbor 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video captures shark attack on seal at crowded beach


    ORLEANS, Mass. — A shark attack on a seal at a Cape Cod beach sent beachgoers scrambling, and surfers a few yards away had to frantically swim to shore.

    Thayer Wade captured video of  a shark attacking a seal off a Cape Cod beach. His uncle Pat O'Brien shared the video on Twitter.
  2. Florida firefighter spears giant 409-pound grouper in St. Pete Beach competition


    ST. PETERSBURG — It took six sets of hands to drag a 409-pound Warsaw Grouper to the stage.

    James Taylor, a Bradenton firefighter, speared a 409-pound grouper near St. Pete Beach during a competition over the weekend. (Courtesy of Michelle Taylor)
  3. Don't know what to do with those eclipse glasses? Donate them.

    Human Interest

    Those who were able to snag a pair of coveted solar eclipse glasses for Monday's event witnessed a moment in history. But now that the eclipse is over, many are left wondering: What do I do with my …

    Workers pass out eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party on August 21, 2017 at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Tampa, Fla. Tampa experienced a partial eclipse. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Times]
  4. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion


    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]
  5. Ford, Chinese partner look at possible electric car venture


    BEIJING — Ford Motor Co. and a Chinese automaker said Tuesday they are looking into setting up a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China.