(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)
Beleaguered landlord Steven Green, already the subject of Hillsborough's largest code enforcement action ever, is now the object of the largest fines ever levied by the county.
Fines of $5,000 a day, the largest permitted by Florida law, are now being levied against Green, a Yonkers businessman once listed by the Village Voice as one of the 10 worst landlords in New York City.
The Hillsborough Code Enforcement Board ordered the daily fines, beginning last Friday, after a hearing master learned that the 212-unit Amberwood Apartments in northern Hillsborough had not been secured against use by vagrants, despite assurances to the contrary by Green's staff.
"They just lied to the hearing master," said Don Shea, the county's director of community improvement. "Green has said he spent $30,000 to secure that property, but it's not evident to us."
Code inspectors found a chain-link fence pulled down and drug paraphernalia and remnants of food in the Amberwood apartments, proof that vagrants were using the units, Shea said.
"It's a serious matter," he said. "'We're concerned because these apartments are right across the street from Miles Elementary School, and this nuisance could pose a danger to kids who might wander over there."
In May, the county ordered Amberwood shut down after finding more than 500 code violations, including fire damage, exposed wires, water-damaged walls and disconnected fire alarms.
Scores of Amberwood residents were forced to find new quarters. Fines of $750 a day followed.
Since then, Green, 37, a one-time delicatessen worker turned real estate investor, has been in negotiations to pay off more than $50,000 in fines levied by Hillsborough. Now, three more $5,000 fines have been added to his tab.
In the early 1990s, Green lost a string of New York properties through foreclosure, was fined millions by New York City and was even jailed once for turning off tenants' hot water during the winter.
After setting up business in Tampa, Green leveraged venture capital loans to buy a dozen apartment complexes valued at more than $40-million.
He also established a reputation for lavish parties he hosted at a renovated red-brick mansion in Hyde Park.
Now, the future of Green's $1.7-million mansion and the Amberwood Apartments are both up in the air.
Earlier this month, SunTrust Bank filed a foreclosure suit against Green, claiming he had missed two monthly payments on his 8,157-square-foot second home at 801 S Delaware Ave.
The bank also said Green had defaulted on a $748,355 commercial loan due June 14.
Green disputed the allegations.
Shea said Tuesday that Amberwood may have to be razed because of serious structural problems that may be too costly to remedy.
Green bought Amberwood for $4-million in May 2000.