Malfunctioning elevators leave residents of Northwest Miami-Dade condominium stranded
Miami Herald-nmb
24 Dec 2014

Several elderly residents and disabled residents who live at the Mirassou condominium in Northwest Miami-Dade have had to rely on relatives and neighbors to help them up and down the stairs. The elevators in the building have been broken for years. In this photo, Aida Ortiz holds documents outlining complaints while Miguel Corral, another resident, looks on. ROBERTO KOLTUN EL NUEVO HERALD

For Mariano Borges, getting to a doctor’s appointment or going out for some fresh air becomes harder each day.

The 95-year-old Cuban gets around on a wheelchair. His 70-year-old daughter Maria Perez and his 50-year-old granddaughter Cary can barely lift his wheelchair to carry it up and down the stairs to the third-floor unit where they live in Northwest Miami-Dade.

It’s been almost six years since the elevators of the building where Borges lives and those of three other buildings in the Mirassou condominium complex do not work properly.

According to public records, Miami-Dade County has cited Mirassou with fines exceeding $5 million.

“The truth is that we made a huge mistake buying an apartment in this place,” said Borges’ daughter. “It’s been years since we had a working elevator and despite our complaints, nobody fixes it.”

Michael Chavez, manager of Miami-Dade’s Office of Elevator Safety, said that when the elevators of the three and four-story buildings at the Mirassou began malfunctioning in 2008, the county sent out infraction notifications.

The violation penalties amounted to $5,065,120.

According to Chavez, authorities have sent out more than 5,000 notifications in the past six years requesting that the condominium association repair the elevators. But that has yet to be done.

Marlene Leon, president of the Mirassou Association of Propietors, declined to comment about the problems affecting the condominium complex, which includes a total of seven buildings and 310 apartments.

Representatives of the company that manages the complex, Florida Property Management (FPM), did not respond to several phones from el Nuevo Herald seeking comment.

In an email, Chavez said that Mirassou’s condo association often argued that they “didn’t have money to repair the elevators.”

According to neighbors, maintenance fees for the complex varies depending on the size of the unit but most residents pay about $300 per month.

“Everything that’s happening here is worrisome,” said Aida Ortiz, a resident who has lived at Mirassou for eight years. “The elevators don’t work and the people who suffer the most are elderly people and people with disabilities who have to constantly be helped by their families and neighbors to move up and down the stairs.”

“For years we’ve complained and it’s just gotten worse,” she said.

Maintenance problems also have affected common areas at the Mirassou condominium located at 6075 NW 186 Street. One of the two pools at the residential complex was shut down and has been chained under lock and key for months.

According to neighbors, the mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 brought forth the foreclosure of several of the complex’s units. Since then, the inhabitants of the properties facing foreclosure remained in the apartments waiting to be evicted but without paying for any services. But as of the last couple of years, the majority of the apartments have been rented again.

Aikem Jones, 19, has to carry his brother David Jones, 10, to the third floor because elevators at the Mirassou condominium where they live in Northwest Miami-Dade have been broken for years. ROBERTO KOLTUN EL NUEVO HERALD

Almost directly in front of Ortiz’s apartment, on a second floor, lives David Jones, a 10-year-old who has a congenital malformation known as Spina Bifida, and who also gets around on a wheelchair. In order to leave the building, his 19-year-old brother Aikem must carry him up and down the stairs.

“We do this because the elevator has been broken for several years,” David Jones said.

Miguel Corral, a Venezuelan who bought a two-bedroom unit on the second floor seven years ago, decided to move in October 2013. He lived there with his mother, an 80-year-old woman who uses a walker. The elevator was broken then, too, as far back as 2009, Corral said.

“It frustrates us, the level of indifference that the directors of the association and of the company that administers the condominium have shown,” said Corral. “No one shows face to try to find a solution.”

Mitchell Drimmer —VP Business Development at Association Financial Services
25 Dec 2014
I have been following this condominium since August 19 2009 when some residents reached out to me and my company for help in collecting delinquent assessments and funding. On August 24 2009 I met with the board of directors (same board who is in power today) at the management company's office (same management company). We presented them with a comprehensive rescue strategy and we were promptly ignored. OK no sale.

Six year latter I see that this same board and same management company are running this community association and they have went from bad to disastrous of biblical proportions. Here are two questions: One: Why after so many years of unbelievable mismanagement is this board and management company still running this condo? Two: Why would a board of directors want to continue to remain in office after so many years of problems? Everybody should think on that.

Why has the membership not voted these people off the board after six years of mismanagement. Why has not the DIVISION OF FLORIDA CONDOMINIUMS, TIMESHARES, AND MOBILE HOMES stepped in and done something, and why has the municipality not done anything but fine the association and not enforced the building codes.

The only option left for this condominium at this time is to declare bankruptcy because if it is true that they have five million in fines they will also have other back breaking expenses they cannot meet that will permit people to live in code compliant buildings.

Katherine Rivera
25 Dec 2014
Over the years there has been several owners that have attempted to make a difference at Mirassou. Doing everything in our power including getting personally involved in helping find, negotiate and implement solutions to keep our working class community afloat. One of the major challenges are all the foreclosures. In order for the owners to force a change in the board we have to have a certain % of owners voting. Well the banks don't vote. Many of us have also approached the ombudsmen, governmental officials and agencies to no avail. Many are afraid to get involved due to retaliation that others have faced and continue to face after getting involved. Here are links that have documented past efforts and current from owners and residents of Mirassou:

With the amount of debt we currently have I fear that the solution will be assessments that will only drive out the few owners that are still here and paying.

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