Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Some residents at Clearwater condo complex remain powerless, in dark

CLEARWATER

More than a month after a fire knocked out their electricity, residents of a Sunset Point Road condo complex remain frustrated and in the dark.

Residents say the property owner responsible for repairs has done nothing to fix the crumbling wall where flames gutted a bank of electric meters, leaving electricians unable to bring the units back online.

Though the four offline units are owned by different people, the power meters are affixed to the fire-ravaged wall of property owned by Gordon Brown. Residents wonder if Brown has pocketed the insurance money without planning for repairs.

"It's just so doggone unfair," said resident Sandi Turja, 62. "It breaks my heart. It really does."

Neither Brown nor his son, Bobby Brown, returned messages left over the last week. Last month, Brown's son shifted blame for the delay to insurers and city engineers and said, "It just takes time to do stuff."

Last week, city officials cited Brown for violating housing code standards requiring electricity, hot water and security — the outside wall of one apartment still has a baseball-sized hole in it that opens into the master bedroom.

Upon receipt of the citation, Brown will have 20 days to obtain permits and complete the repairs, said building official Kevin Garriott. If no work is done, Brown could face fines.

"If the owner is uncooperative, as it seems he is," Garriott wrote in an email, "it may take some time to get the property fixed."

Meanwhile, lights remain dark and refrigerators loll open at four apartments in the complex, Sunset Grove Villas, just east of Hercules Avenue. Their dark times have lasted through both Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Virginia Wistner, 50, said she has been devastated since the fire Oct. 23. Her tight budget has suffered from weeks of using laundromats and eating fast food. After staying three weeks at a Super 8 motel, she had to move back to her darkened apartment.

"I'm absolutely financially on the brink," Wistner said. "I thought it would be taken care of before Thanksgiving ... but it's just going from nasty to nastier."

A few weeks ago, Wistner tried to arrange for an architect to draw up plans for the repairs, she said. But Brown told her he would not pay for the work and would hire his own architect. She has yet to hear back from him.

Neighbors took up a collection and gave her a $100 Publix gift card to buy some hot meals. But in the last month, she said, all Brown has done is arrange for a green garbage bag to cover the hole in her wall.

Another owner whose property was damaged in the fire, Turja said, received a check from Citizens Insurance, leading residents to believe Brown may have the insurance money but is unwilling to spend it on repairs.

Turja and Wistner say they've been advised to move by property managers, but they say they don't have the money — or energy.

"I think he should invest in a little more compassion," Turja said of Brown. "I just can't believe he has gotten away with this."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

Some residents at Clearwater condo complex remain powerless, in dark 11/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 8:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  2. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want

    Local

    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]
  4. WATCH: Heroic Hooters manager helps two sheriff's deputies subdue unruly customer

    Crime

    BRANDON — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office praised a heroic Hooters Restaurant manager Wednesday for coming to the aid of two deputies struggling to subdue an unruly customer.

    It took two deputies and a Hooter's manager to get control of Ashton B. Toney after he threatened to kill an employee who refused to serve him alcohol at a Hooter's in Brandon, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.
[Booking photo from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]