By Kelli Jo Hull
For Hometown News
The Daytona Beach Shores City Council gave initial approval Jan. 28 to an ordinance that will make it easier for the city to eliminate eyesores created by abandoned or vacant buildings, such as the closed Treasure Island hotel on Atlantic Avenue.
After a specified process, the ordinance gives the city the right to "contract for the demolition" of the structure if the property owner doesn't come into compliance with city code. According to City Manager Michael Booker, the ordinance is "not aimed at Treasure Island, but is designed to prevent this type of thing from happening in the future."
When asked if there were other concerns in the community, Mr. Booker said, "Not anything of the magnitude of Treasure Island."
Left vacant since the hurricanes of 2004 damaged the property, the Treasure Island hotel stands looming above the Daytona Beach Shores main thoroughfare with open windows, peeling paint and fenced off parking lots. The building's formerly grand sign, evoking pirate days of old, is now shadowed by dirt and decay.
"It's mainly an appearance issue," Mr. Booker said.
The property owners had an engineering analysis done and found there were no "structural integrity issues," he said.
Former owners Bray & Gillespie LLC declared bankruptcy in 2008 and RAIT Financial Trust acquired the property after a bankruptcy court gave it temporary title in 2010. RAIT was given clear title in 2012 and since that time, while doing some cleanup, it has acquired $800,000 in unpaid fines for city code violations.
According to Mr. Booker, those fines are "on hold hoping that the city can resolve the issue" with the property owners. He added the fines "can be reinstated rather quickly, if need be."
RAIT has been given until July 31 to bring the property up to city code. Also, company representatives are expected to make a presentation at the Feb. 11 City Council meeting outlining their progress and future plans.
When contacted about the issue, RAIT's local representative, attorney Mark Watts said, "I think my client and the city have the same ultimate interest; to see the property redeveloped."