City OKs inside-demolition permit for Cocoa Beach Glass Bank

Council also plans nuisance lawsuit

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - In the coming weeks, construction workers may begin gutting the Glass Bank floor-by-floor, tossing moldy drywall and shattered glass into the trash.

Thursday night, the Cocoa Beach City Commission unanimously supported re-issuing an interior demolition permit to the Glass Bank Condominium Association, which owns the North Atlantic Avenue building, according to Local 6 news partner Florida Today.

Scott Widerman, the condominium association's lawyer, publicly accused former Cocoa Beach officials of interfering in his client's efforts to repair and reconstruct the building "in every step of the way."

Chiefly, he said the city unexpectedly revoked his demolition permit in November 2011 — likely because the site is under consideration for a future City Hall.

"Why am I continuously stopped from fixing this building?" Widerman asked commissioners.

On a parallel track, commissioners also unanimously decided to pursue a nuisance lawsuit against the condominium association.

City Attorney Skip Fowler — who has publicly labeled the Glass Bank "a vertical slum" — wants to put a building-inspection team to work in October that will later serve as the city's expert witnesses.

These could include a mold-remediation expert, an asbestos expert, a structural engineer, a building official and a real estate broker.

If a nuisance lawsuit is filed and the city prevails, a judge could order the condominium association to repair or raze the Glass Bank within a certain timeframe. Otherwise, the city could receive permission to foreclose or level the structure.

"If you and your client show good faith, and we see progress, I don't think we'll be punitive," Commissioner Adrianne Dillon told Widerman of building repairs.

Widerman said he hopes to file necessary paperwork within the next week or two.

Mayor Dave Netterstrom labeled the Glass Bank a "festering cancer." Commissioner Skip Williams said he wants to see the condominium association get a demolition permit, "put their money where their mouth is" and fix the building.

Vice-Mayor Ben Malik said commissioners and residents are "tired of the talk" and want to see some action.

Residents who addressed commissioners during Thursday's meeting feared that a hurricane could send pieces of dangerous debris sailing airborne.

The Glass Bank was built in 1961 as Cocoa Beach's landmark structure.

A 4-year-old lawsuit among its owners remains ongoing in appellate court.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.