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Doubts rise as repairs continue at condos

Maria Tsimouris says she doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. She just wants to do her job.

She oversees the construction crew renovating the Carriage House, a dilapidated time-share and condominium complex on the Gulf of Mexico.

"I don't want to talk to the newspaper," Tsimouris said this week. "I just want to see the work finished."

Apparently, some people are wondering if it ever will be finished. Tsimouris said some City Council members have been snooping around the complex, taking pictures and saying that renovations are not proceeding fast enough.

Last month, James A. Staack, a lawyer representing the owners, wrote a letter to the City Council saying it should "cease and desist" from visiting the job site.

Building inspector Stanley Moore also has been to the site and said he noticed potential problems. In a memo to Mayor William Atteberry dated June 6, Moore wrote that a stucco contractor working on the building "was covering corroded metal column plates, corroded re-bar and structural cracks with stucco."

Moore said in the memo that he would not sign off on the repairs. He declined to comment this week.

"Personally, I'm teed off that every Tom, Dick and Harry keeps interfering with my job," said Clayton Kettles, owner of Kettles Marine, the company repairing the seawall.

Moore's memo also said slabs for the seawall would have to be repoured. But this week he said those slabs have passed required tests and don't have to be repoured.

Kettles would not estimate when the seawall would be finished.

"This is an unusual situation," Kettles said. "There is a lot of rubble to remove. The pool must be moved. This is not like constructing something right out in the open.

"The owners understand that. They'll pay me until next Christmas if that's what it takes."

But Kettles doesn't have until Christmas. Renovations to the building cannot be made until the seawall is completed, Tsimouris said.

The Carriage House, at 3200 Gulf Blvd., became an eyesore when the no-name storm in March 1993 blew out windows and destroyed the patio, pool and seawall.

It has been vacant since 1990, when the property began to decline after its condominium association sued the owners.

Morfeas Inns Inc. racked up $1.5-million in fines for code violations, but the fines were dropped when the owner agreed to renovate the property. The city gave the owner, now under receivership, nine months to complete the renovations. The agreement was signed March 16.

According to building permits, Magnum Homes was hired to renovate the property, but the company's phone number has been disconnected.

If the renovations are not completed before the permit expires, the fines will be reinstated.