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The Condo Connection

News and columns from our Condo News Correspondents

Condo News' Print Newspaper Correspondents at Right




• Il Circolo's Dr. Myriam Ruthenberg Retires

• Former Condo News Office Manager Celebrates 85th B-Day



• Former Palm Beach Hawaiian to be Razed

• The Claridges Hoists New Flag

• Pines of Delray West Wins Award

• New Boat Dock at Oasis Palm Beach

• Palm Beach County drenched by T.S. Isaac

• FP&L Demolition of old power plant in Riviera Beach, FL

• Echoes of the Blast ... Where did all the 1515 promises go?

• 1515 Finally Down and Wrapping Up 1515

By Jeanine Heidtman




L O C A L   N E W S

Last Updated 01/06/2022

Il Circolo, the Italian Cultural Society,

announces the retirement of 

Dr. Myriam Ruthenberg

By Sally Valenti


Il Circolo, the Italian Cultural Society, announces the retirement of Dr. Myriam Ruthenberg. More than 35 years ago, Il Circolo donated $5000 to Florida Atlantic University in the hopes of starting an Italian program. Myriam, at that time, was completing her dissertation at NYU. Since no teacher was available to implement the Italian program, she applied, was promptly called in for an interview, and immediately hired. And thus, began a program which evolved into a full-study curriculum, even offering a PHD in Comparative Studies, with a track in Italian. Dr.Ruthenberg, in her endeavor to enrich the program, added scholars Dr. Anthony Tamburri, now Dean of Italian Studies at the Calandra Institute in New York City, and Dr. Ilaria Serra and her husband, Emanuele Pettener, still on the staff at FAU. In addition, the Italian Government, to honor Dr. Ruthenberg for spreading its culture in the United States awarded her the title of Cavaliere, the equivalent of knighthood.

On April 19, 2021, Dr. Ruthenberg was honored at FAU. Members of Il Circolo’s Board of Directors, Antonella Brancaccio and Chris Salamone , attended the ceremony and added their congratulations and gratitude on behalf of the entire membership.

Il Circolo held a summer get-together luncheon on July 10 , where Dr. Ruthenberg was lauded and given a clock as a gift. "You have stood the test of time," she was told. (photo above)

The investment Il Circolo made has brought the richest of returns, taking pride knowing that our young students have benefited from our support. We salute Dr. Ruthenberg for skillfully and relentlessly making this possible and wish her a peaceful and enjoyable rest.

Former Condo News Office Manager Celebrates 85th Birthday

By Betty Thomas

Photo by Jimmy Shirley

(L-R) (Standing) Jimmy Shirley and Betty Thomas of the Condo News; Barbara’s sister Debby Quigley-Markovic of Everglades of North Palm Beach; Barbara’s sister-in-law and brother Nancy and Willy Ochs of La Pinata, Greenacres. (Seated) Barbara Langley of Pine Ridge III, Greenacres. Barbara is holding Ginger, former greeter of the West Palm Beach Condo News office.


For 36 years, Barbara Langley was the first person one would see when coming to the Condo News office. She started work September 12, 1982. Her last day was March 30, 2018, when she retired and we closed the office, relying instead, on the Internet to do business. She was the office manager, classified manager, distribution manager and my right hand person.

Barbara and I go back to 1978 when we both worked in a business owned by my then husband in Maryland. About two years after Barbara left Maryland to be near her late mother, Vicki Ochs, former Condo News photographer, I too, came to Florida to be near my mother. That was in January 1983 and Barbara had been working for the paper for 3½ months. I came to visit her for a couple of days and wound up working for the paper myself. It was like slipping back into our prospective desks (in Maryland). We assumed the same working cooperation we enjoyed in Maryland, and it continued that way until she left the Condo News.

On April 19, 2021, Barbara celebrated her 85th birthday with her sister and caregiver Debbie, her brother Willy and his wife Nancy, Jimmy Shirley, Condo News photographer, and myself. And of course, Ginger, her Pomeranian, who was the full-time greeter at the Condo News office.

Not enough can be said about Barbara, but let it be known, I am fortunate to have had her as a co-worker and friend. The Condo News was fortunate to have her.

Happy 85th Birthday, Barbara.

Condo News Select Archived 

News Items

Former Palm Beach Hawaiian to be Razed

Photo by Jimmy Shirley

The Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn is flanked by Horizon East Condominium on the south (right) and Tuscany Condominium on the north (left).


By Betty Thomas

The Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn, formerly known as the Palm Beach Hawaiian, will soon give way to a new condominium. The 50 year old Polynesian style hotel was the only retail business in South Palm Beach. Tides Bar & Grill, which occupied the ocean side of the building, was a popular watering-hole for many decades. The 58-room hotel drew patrons from all over, many of whom were celebrities.

Hurricane Wilma in 2005 took out most of the beach and the building had deteriorated badly. In its place will be a 6-story condominium.

The Claridges Condominium Hoists New Flag

Fl. Sen. Maria Sachs presents George Fisher a flag that was flown over the Capitol in Tallahassee. 


Photo by Jimmy Shirley

Photo by Jimmy Shirley

George Fisher and Claridges property Manager Robert McCullock prepare 

to raise the new flag in front of the Claridges Condominium in Palm Beach.

Last December 15, at the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge Christmas meeting, Florida Senator Maria Sachs presented George Fisher, president of the VBOB Chapter, a flag that was flown over the Capitol in Tallahassee (pictured above).

Last month, on October 30th, Mr. Fisher and the Manager of The Claridges, Robert McCullock, LCAM, raised the flag in front of the condominium. A plaque on the flag pole reads: "This flag was flown over the Capitol in Tallahassee in honor of George Fisher, veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and Claridges resident.


Pines of Delray West Wins Community Excellence Award for Financial Innovation

Accepting the award for Pines West Association from left to right:

Carl Picerno –Director; Bob Gizzarelli – Vice Pres.; Tom Comparato – President; Teri Fifth – Manager; John Critelli – Treasurer (2013-2014)

Pines of Delray West Association won the Community Excellence Award for Financial Innovation of small communities, presented, by the Florida Community Association Journal. The awards of excellence was created in 2008 and recognizes communities throughout the state of Florida in a host of categories. The awards are independently judged by a panel of industry and government professionals. The gala and presentation took place at the Rosen Plaza in Orlando Florida, on May 2, 2014

Pines of Delray won the award because they demonstrated their ability to cut costs and maintain condo fees, by rebidding contracts, deciding when to use outside vendors or in-house maintenance staff searching out the best insurance company for maximum coverage at lowest rates and by constantly reviewing costs and ability to save and not eliminate any community services. Pines of Delray West has an excellent

Board, Management Team, as well as an active Financial Committee consisting of non board members that creates transparency, and they all work together for the greater good.

Pines of Delray West was established in 1978 and consists of 288 condos. Pines of Delray West is managed by Campbell Property Management out of Deerfield Beach, since 2007.

Palm Beach County Drenched by T.S. Isaac

Above and below: Flooding of the streets and parking lots in Springdale Homes, Palm Springs, FL Notice the strip of grass in the picture below separating the lake from the parking lot. 

Photos by Jimmy L. Shirley, Jr.

South Florida's first taste of the 2012 hurricane season arrived in Palm Beach County on August 27 in the form of a feeder band that had separated from the main storm, Tropical Storm Isaac. It stretched from Cuba up the east coast of Florida while the main body of the storm was in the Gulf of Mexico heading for Louisiana, and eventually becoming a category 1 hurricane before making landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

For a storm that was expected, by the National Weather Service, to dump from 4 to 6 inches of rain on Palm Beach County, but instead, dropped up to 18 inches in some spots, Isaac sure packed a wallop. Springdale Homes in Palm Springs, Fla. received its fair share, tabulating about 9 inches of rain late Monday morning to around 4 PM. This left us with knee-deep water in many of our parking lots after Monday, not to mention the main road.

The western towns of Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, the Acreage were flooded for more than a couple of weeks. In order to be eligible for FEMA aid, at least 18 inches of water must have flooded their homes. Since most of the homes were build up high on "pads", federal aid is not available for them. The high water became contaminated with septic tank water, fluids from cars and trucks as well as from some unlicensed car repair shops. So, they must look to themselves in the spirit of real Americans of self reliance, instead of governmental welfare.

Echoes of the Blast

Where Did All the 1515 Promises Go?

Commentary by Jeanine Heidtman

With only the last weeks of 2010 before us, I want to bring our returning Condo News readers some updates regarding the current status of the large brown, barren, vacant parcel at 1515 South Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. During this summer, the August announcement of the foreclosure lawsuit against New York City-based Trinity 1515 LLC and managing member Edmund Abramson is working its way through Palm Beach County Circuit Court. In addition to the $36 million owed First Commonwealth Bank of Pennsylvania, another $1.3 million in interest has accrued as of September 1st. The mortgage was due on Feb. 21st, 2010. It replaced the original $24 million from Kennedy Funding.

In searching the tax rolls for the Arkona a/k/a/ Tower 1515, the total market value of the parcel now is listed as $10,500,000 and $254,325 is the total tax pending. I have questioned many officials, many times, why no figures are listed for 2008 and 2009 on the Tax Collector’s website. The best answer I got was the original condo owners, not Trinity 1515 LLC, was responsible for the ’08 and ’09 obligation for these 2 years taxes even though it was clear these unfortunate previous owners were long gone and their units were sold. The date of February 3rd, 2007 has always been given as when the property was sold and closed for 32 million dollars.

The additional amount of the outstanding loan according to Abramson "... was necessary to obtain the Modern’s zoning and Trinity had intended to repay the loan with a construction loan." He expects construction to start in 12 - 16 months and the clock to cancel the hard fought rezoning is tied to beginning actual construction. In March, long before the foreclosure action, a construction lien of $60,000 was placed by Urban Design Studios aka Kilday and Associates on the 1515 South Flagler property. A contract signed with Paul Grillo was documented for the professional services provided to guide the rezoning through the commission process. The lien is for May ‘09 to December ‘09 and remains unpaid. The Planning and Zoning Firm has been added to the August foreclosure submittal.

West Palm Beach Attorney Peter Bernhardt, who represents the bank, said the full $36 million is outstanding and I continue searching for any information if Trinity has a chance to work this out.

On a different side of the Modern’s history, using more than 3,000 sticks of dynamite, the remains of the 30 story 1515 Condo Tower originally called the Arkona, were imploded by Advanced Explosives Demolition on February 14, 2010.

This week, that company no longer can claim an accident free record for 27 years. Wednesday, November 12th at noon, the AED demolition of a 300 foot smokestack at an Ohio power plant went terribly wrong. Lisa and Eric Kelly the company owners, had little patience last year when the plan to implode the 1515 during the holidays was denied. Because our city and construction supervisor, Doug Wise, put safety in front of a chance to become a TV reality show episode of the "Imploders", our takedown occurred in February with enormous safety rules in place.

According to the Dayton Daily news accounts, the explanation of why the blast did not send the stack to the cleared area directly to the east, but went crashing down to the southeast, was an undetected crack in the tower.

With the live electrical lines falling, 25 media members, demolition crews and the Kelly family members scattered to avoid the crackling lines. WHLO-TV videographer Eric Higgenbotham stated, "We were standing under the power lines, it was like the end. We were running for our lives." The two 12,000 volt power lines also came down on a building housing backup generators. Power was out to the west side of the city for hours.

The justified fears and concerns of the 1515 neighbors and city officials who labored to ensure the best outcome, along with the Condo News’ unwavering support, made this comment by Lisa Kelly NOT a part of our collective memory, "Nobody’s happy with things that go wrong in life, and sometimes it’s out of our hands and beyond anybody’s prediction." she stated.

I remain convinced the "public unified demand" for every possible safety factor and several rigorous pre-inspections might have made the difference in our city.

Since we have been successful in our goal of removing a terrible blight on our waterfront, I have been writing your Condo Design column. I have come to realize my passion remains in the visual satisfaction of creating a room, not in putting the Rules and Don’t into words. I plan on continuing submitting the social goings on at Rapallo Condominium, as well as any major news regarding the Modern project when our local paper does not give as much detail as available.

As every politician says when departing whether by scandal or choice, "I want to travel and spend more time with my family."

(Note: See full story of 1515 take-down below)


Background by Betty Thomas: On Labor Day weekend in 2004, Palm Beach County was hit by Hurricane Frances, and 3 weeks later by Hurricane Jeanne. They made landfall very nearly at the same place in Hutchinson Island, some 35-40 miles north of West Palm Beach. H. Frances, a category 2 at landfall,  had an unusually large eye, 80 miles across, torrential rains and lingered nearly stationary, moving only 5 miles an hour, with hurricane force winds pummeling West Palm Beach for nearly 2 days.  H. Jeanne struck Florida as a category 3, with a 60 mile wide eye and moved out the same day.  The following year, Hurricane Wilma made her entrance on the west coast of Florida October 24, 2005, crossed the state in about 6 hours, with the eye passing over West Palm Beach. Winds were measured at 92 miles per hour with gusts 112-117 mph over Lake Okeechobee. The 1515 Tower on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach (pictured above) sustained devastating damage during Frances and Jeanne, rendering the building uninhabitable, but not condemned by the City of West Palm Beach. Wilma added to the damage by blowing more debris through the structure endangering surrounding buildings. The status of 1515 remained in flux until February 14 , and residents in nearby condominiums were exasperated by seemingly endless wrangling between the developer, who bought the property for redevelopment, and the City Commission.  At 30 stories high, the 1515 was the tallest building in the state of Florida to be imploded, and the third tallest in the nation. Below are some photos of the demolition and Jeanine Heidtman's account. Still to come, the clean-up and eventual construction of The Modern on that site.


Jeanine Heidtman reports on the implosion of the 1515 and aftermath to come. 


Thar She Blows! 

1515 Tower implosion 

- 5½ years over in 7 seconds!


Photo by Andres Garcia, 

Rapallo North Doorman 

taken from the Royal Park Bridge 

in West Palm Beach


View from the roof of Rapallo North Condominium shows the Viding Arms (foreground) and the Norton Park Condominiums with the pile of debris of what was the 1515 Tower. 

Photo by Andres Garcia, Rapallo No. doorman

View of the Royal Park Bridge from the roof of the Rapallo North Condominium on Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach. 

Photo by Andres Garcia, Rapallo No. doorman

With the live broadcast of the 1515 South Flagler Drive Implosion and in depth stories by our local newspaper, it would appear all ended well.

Because of the diligent requirements and safety measures in place under the direction of Doug Wise, Director of Construction Services, we witnessed the most modern methods of taking down such a tall structure. With the push of a button by Elyja Kelly, 6 year old daughter of AED’s Kelly family , the building fell, the wind sent the dust cloud over to Palm Beach and the hundreds of boats watching made a mad dash to get away.

With AED Demolition gone from Palm Beach County after their "picture perfect implosion," there is one Condo who did not fare very well.

I spoke to Seth Schulman, Manager of the Viking Arms, just south of the implosion who told me "after further assessment, our roof suffered significant damage. The blast threw out large chunks of concrete and steel rebar that penetrated our roof system in over 40 places. We have been told by City Officials to file with our Insurance Company, but no person from the BG Group has come over as requested several times. The roof is only several years old and cost over $200,000 and has to be professionally repaired so it will remain under warranty in the future. We are hoping temporary patches will hold till we can get it taken care of. We also have our screen balconies and windows covered with thick cement dust and bent aluminum rail damage to be addressed. Despite additional calls, there has been no one over to the Viking Arms to evaluate and discuss solutions even though BG Group is working right next door."

Shortly after I was allowed to return to the Rapallo, I gathered a large amount of golf ball and larger cement chunks which had fallen into our parking lot. The total removal of all our cars surely saved a lot of damage to deal with.

I was very pleased overall from the cooperative spirit between condo residents and the police who were organizing every aspect of safety. A definite feeling of respect was shown by spectators for the many necessary rules during the event. Watching from Olive Avenue and the Norton Museum where VIP and Press were set up, I spoke with one former resident of 1515, who asked to be nameless, about her home of almost 30 years permanently gone in 8 seconds. She recalled the glorious view each morning while having her coffee, never imagining it would someday end so abruptly from the Hurricanes.

The worst part before today, was the hopes for restoration of the 1515 being followed by disappointment afterwards. She felt being there in person to watch would finally give her some ending emotionally. I truly hope it has.

Mayor Frankel greeted the crowd assembled with Hershey’s Kisses for Valentine’s Day, and Bill Moss appeared to be the only City Commissioner in our viewing area.

Just before blast, I started speaking with the person next to me who turned out to be Susan Wise, whose husband was Director for the Implosion. I commented the enormous responsibility Doug was just completing and he should take a long needed rest. She and their four children were just looking forward to getting "Dad and Husband back again."

Still to come ... the Aftermath ...


Wrapping Up 1515

March 24, 2010

Probably the most often asked question after the long hoped for implosion, is how is the fast shrinking pile of debris being dealt with.

Doug Wise, City of West Palm Beach Construction Services, who has turned in his "Demolition Hard Hat" after a job well done, sent me the City Code 109.3.10 regarding the specific language concerning the impact of Construction.

This widely inclusive Code states, "All activity cannot adversely impact conditions of adjacent properties unless consent is granted by the property owners with exact terms and conditions. This includes but not limited to dust, noise, debris and construction materials."

In speaking with Denny Johnson, a resident of Norton Park Place Condominium, to thank him for some new amazing shots of the building falling, I received the following e-mail:

"I am feeling positive regarding the on-going rubble cleanup at 1515 South Flagler. There has been no unwelcome weekend activity, and things are well organized to separate the enormous amount of rebar from the cement.

"Every truck is covered with a retractable screen and they are hosing down the dust constantly throughout the day. At their current rate, the lot should be clean by April 1st. In summary, the Dental Office on Arkona Drive is not very happy with the aftermath of the implosion and if you venture near to see the rubble from a different vantage, you are asked to leave. Certainly he has every right."

Seth Schulman reports the roof repairs on the Viking Arms were to begin March 9th, but no agreement has been reached for the significant clean-up of resident balconies. With the additional ongoing cloud of dust created, it would be futile for much actual work to begin. Trinity Development has acknowledged this responsibility by City Code to comply, and that granting final approval to sign off on the Demolition permit can be with-held. We hope the BG Group will inform us of their plan for restoring our property without further delay.

Perhaps the most favorable news to share, is the changed route for trucks removing the debris. According to Brian Collins, City Traffic Official in a phone call this morning, "No longer are trucks permitted to exit and go south on Flagler Drive through the El Cid Historic District. Now required is a left out of the Demolition site north to Okeechobee Blvd. and then proceeding west on Okeechobee where commercial vehicles are standard fare.

Empty returning trucks come east on Okeechobee, travel a short distance south on Flagler Drive, but use Arkona Drive and Olive Avenue to come back in for reloading. This prevents any turn around on the narrow Historic Streets of Mango Promenade, particularly on Cranes Nest Way, just south of the Norton Museum. This has solved the many numerous complaints and also moved the traffic away from the Museum."

Many of us wish however, the traffic congestion from student pick-up from Palm Beach Day Academy would be finally dealt with as quickly.

The Foreman of the 1515 site has stated to the City Officials, "Any trucks not obeying the Flagler Drive and other restrictions should report the name on the side of the vehicle and the person will be dealt with immediately. With all our surrounding Condominium owners now enjoying their new view, there will be plenty of eyes from above watching the efforts.

A call to 822-2222 at City Hall has resulted in fast and successful resolution of problems for concerned citizens.

Perhaps April 1st, 2010, is a bit optimistic for a completely cleared site but no one is venturing a comment beyond grass and irrigation required by the end of May.

With the Modern units to start at over $3 million, many will be waiting for their income tax checks before they make the anticipated $800,000 deposit.

With property taxes to be around $70,000 per year, you’ll have to dig deeper in your pockets than the 25 foot excavation planned just 1 foot from all 1515 site property lines, necessary for the underground parking garage. The neighborhood hopes this anticipated step down the line, whenever and if it occurs will be "Picture perfect too."

Next issue, back to ideas and trends in 2010 Spring decorating. I’m turning in my "Hard Hat" as well.


Hotlines on Happenings


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