Ortega Home Burned In 2019; Remains An Eyesore Owned By Out-Of-State Developer

Ariel Fernandez

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On May 3, 2019, a fire broke out at the residence located at 827 Ortega Avenue in Coral Gables. Coral Gables Fire Department responded and was able to successfully extinguish the blaze.

The house at that address, however, suffered irreparable damage. Smoke stains could be seen outside each of the broken windows. A hole in the roof at the front of the house marked the spot where Coral Gables firefighters entered the attic, where it is believed the fire started.

Luckily, no one was injured in the blaze as all the inhabitants of the home were away at the time.

Nearly three years after the blaze, the home remains an eyesore surrounded by perfectly maintained homes that line the block.

Today, a green screen covered chainlink fence surrounds the lot, windows are covered with wooden planks, the whole in the roof remains along with the smoke stains on the exterior walls. The front of the house has a broken garage door and is littered with City violations and notices.

Neighbors explain that the house has an incredible stench emanating from it with cats and rats living inside.

Since the fire, residents have been asking for the City’s assistance in ensuring either the demolition or repairs to the home. Had it not been for the persistence of neighbors, the chainlink fence would not have been placed and the violations would not have been filed.

Ownership

The home was sold in August of 2019 to an investment company (827 Ortega Avenue, LLC) based out of Weston, Florida for $287,500. It was then sold to another investment company (827 Ortega B&H LLC) registered to the same owner, Natalia Blandon, for $300,000 in August of 2020. Blandon was also the listing agent on the property according to Zillow under the umbrella of International Property Investment Realty.

The current owner (Logo Homes, Inc.) purchased the home in February of 2021 for $440,000. The owner sold the home for $152,500 over the original purchase price, but made no repairs to the home in the year-and-a-half they owned it. The description on Zillow explained that Blandon believed the property to have a “market value around $650,000.”

The warranty deed filed when the property was purchased identifies Logo Homes, Inc. as a Florida company. However, a search of the State’s database of corporations, Sunbiz, shows no company by that name. In fact, the City’s research linked it back to Silver Springs, Maryland.

Violations

Although the fire took place on May 3, 2019, and the building was declared unsafe on June 26, 2019, the City of Coral Gables took no action with regard to the property until residents began contacting City Hall. The City’s first code enforcement violation on the property came on January 14, 2021. On February 10th, the 827 Ortega investment companies sold it.

The violation was followed by another on February 19, 2021 for Chapter 105-minimum housing and another on March 29, 2021 for Unsafe Structure with a Notice of Hearing.

On April 12, 2021, the Construction Regulation Board met and ordered that, “A. Secure and maintain the property, apply for an interior demolition permit including removal of the caved-in roof, obtain temporary fence permit and submit permit for new structure within thirty (30) days from the Construction Regulation Meeting of April 12, 2021. B. Applicant to provide an update at the Construction Regulation Meeting of May 10, 2021.”

A chainlink fence was placed around the property following a permit application for a temporary chainlink fence on April 30, 2021. Ten months later, the temporary fence still surrounds the property.

The developer applied for a permit on plans to add a second story and balcony. Those plans were rejected by the City and the developer took no additional action the remainder of 2021. The City did not place any additional violations on the property.

Developer Proposes Third Floor Terrace

Now, almost three years after the fire, with a dilapidated structure still on Ortega Avenue, developers have filed an application for a three story facility. A two-story home with a rooftop terrace.

Gables Insider has been unable to secure the proposal that was rejected by the City in 2021. However, some of the diagrams submitted are similar to background documentation the City had in its files from the appraisal done on the property when Logo Homes purchased the house.

The new project is being heard by the Construction Regulation Committee this week at the City. Staff is recommending: “A. Obtain a Building Permit for the proposed addition and alterations to the structure or a total demolition permit within sixty (60) days of the Board’s Order. B If a permit for the addition and alterations is issued, then obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for the structure within one hundred eighty (180) days from the Board’s Order. If a Total Demolition permit is issued, the permit shall be in Final status within ninety (90) days of the Board’s Order. C. A $250 daily fine be imposed if property does not comply with either of the deadlines.”

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1 thought on “Ortega Home Burned In 2019; Remains An Eyesore Owned By Out-Of-State Developer

  1. This is standard practice, since property values are appreciating at such a pace that just boarding up the windows and letting it sit still brings in thousands more when it’s sold three years later (sometimes 3 months later). Next to my home on Frow Avenue is another example of out of town landlords’ negligence.
    Broken windows and sub standard living conditions, they actually have tenants living there! The city inspectors are pulling out their hair but they have little power. We need help from the city to force these absentee landlords to keep up their properties to some human standard of decency commensurate with the neighborhood properties.

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