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The Punta Gorda Code Enforcement board gave Amer Asmar, whose firm Punta Gorda AA Hotel LLC owns the Punta Gorda Waterfront Hotel, 30 days to remove stagnant water from the pool and pull a permit to either rebuild or demolish the building. 

The property is at 300 W. Retta Esplanade in the historic downtown area of the city. 

Represented by attorney Derek Rooney of the GrayRobinson law firm, Asmar sat silent as Code Compliance Supervisor Lavosia Price Jr. read a list of violations for two separate hearings against the property. 

Behind him on a large screen, photos of the hotel’s grounds and structure were displayed. 

The first hearing dealt with seven code violations, including parking and loading maintenance, public nuisance, outside storage, property maintenance, tall grass and/or weeds and two dumpster enclosure maintenance violations. 

One certified letter sent to Asmar was returned undelivered, Price told the board. Subsequent notifications were sent and upon inspecting the grounds on Sept. 26, compliance was made to the grounds and dumpster enclosures. 

Asmar was fined $2,675, which amounted to a $25-per-day fine for the 107 days the hotel grounds were out of compliance, plus $50.92 for case costs. 

That was the second hearing on the hotel that bode badly for the building’s future. Price read the four building code violations, which included roof maintenance, a danger blight condition and stagnant water in the pool. The pool can be seen from Harbor Walk along the Peace River. 

When one of the board members mentioned the open pool provided a danger to the community, Rooney said a fence would be placed around it. 

In her testimony, building official Kathleen Croteau said it was doubtful the two-story portion of the building could be rehabbed. 

Referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 50% rule, if repairs cost more than 50% of the appraised value of the structure, then the building would have to be demolished. 

Croteau said the two-story portion, which abuts the waterfront, is nonconforming as it is “below elevation by today’s standards,” she said. 

If a structure doesn’t meet FEMA’s flood requirements, it is considered nonconforming. 

Croteau said the owner would get the assessed market value from the Charlotte County Property Appraiser, and based on that value, the owner could only spend 50% of that. 

“Otherwise, demolish or raise the structure,” she said. 

“Based on current conditions and structural and fire code issues, it would be a pretty tough job to make this building under the 50% rule,” Croteau said. 

There are three buildings on-site. The two-story section that might be demolished shares a common wall with Hurricane Charley’s Sushi, Raw Bar & Grill, which has been closed since Hurricane Idalia caused additional roof damage to the restaurant portion and flooding from rainfall. 

Shortly after Hurricane Idalia, the restaurant was inspected by the city’s fire marshal and was deemed unsafe, as its electrical and venting systems were damaged, among other problems, such as flooding and mold. 

Punta Gorda AA Hotel LLC, which owns both the hotel and restaurant properties, leased the space to Hurricane Charley’s, which had more than 10 years left on its lease. 

The board voted that the stagnant water and pool mitigation must be completed by the next code compliance hearing on Oct. 25. Also, the owner must show that a permit has been applied for at the next hearing. 

The case cost for the second hearing was $53.38, but if compliance is not met, the owner faces a fine of up to $250 per day with interest. 

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