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Key West condo building unsafe, but residents lack options

September 3, 2021 GMT

A city official in the Florida Keys is threatening to condemn a condo building for being unsafe, a move that could further limit the affordable housing stock in a community that is often difficult for working people to find a place to live.

The 111-unit Santa Clara Condominium complex in Key West was in dangerous condition with damage that includes major cracks in walls and stairwells, and exposed steel in vertical columns, Raj Ramsingh, the city’s chief building inspector, wrote in a hearing notice dated Wednesday.

The Santa Clara Condominium Association must produce a plan for repairs at a “condemnation hearing” set for Sept. 13 at City Hall, according to the Miami Herald.

“Santa Clara was just band-aiding it for the last 15 years,” Ramsingh said. “The key is to keep it maintained.”

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The notice comes as condo associations and building inspectors all over South Florida and beyond are examining residential structures following the June collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, which killed 98 people.

Compared to most places in Key West, the units at the Santa Clara Condominium complex are moderately priced.

Built in 1980, the condos are home for about 300 people. Oliver Kofoid, president of the condo board, said the board is seeking a loan for the repairs, which are estimated at more than $8 million. But many fear they will be forced to move out in a city mired in a housing crisis.

“This whole place is workforce housing,” Kofoid said.