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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-Owners of small commercial properties are frustrated by continually new interpretations and mandates of the federal government’s 15-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, D.K. Mink, the newly-elected president of the Building Owners and Managers Association of South Florida, tells GlobeSt.com.

There is no guarantee that expensive improvements made today will be allowed to stand five or 10 years from now, says Mink who is also president of Mink & Mink, a locally-based commercial real estate brokerage. “The ADA is under close scrutiny now, thanks to some recent interpretations in Tallahassee,” Mink says. Building owners and several public officials are following and watching how federal officials interpret and reinterpret the statute.

For example, “If you build a building today that is in 100% compliance, you have no guarantee that you won’t have to make substantial renovations in three to five years, just to keep up with new interpretations and/or regulations,” Mink tells GlobeSt.com. As a result, many owners are “over a barrel,” the broker says.

Owners of older properties are especially vulnerable, the broker says. For example, “the owners of a small historic, two-story building that has a little shop on the ground floor and office space above would not consider installing an elevator under normal circumstances,” Mink says. “But if the owner makes even small improvements of the ground-floor retail space to accommodate a new store, he could be required to provide elevator access to the second story, and that will cost $40,000 to $60,000.”

BOMA member Larry M. Schneider, a Miami architect, agrees. “Even small improvements to a second-floor office suite, dividing a conference room into two smaller offices, could trigger a demand to install vertical accessibility, an elevator, in the building,” Schneider says. He helped write the current version of the Florida Accessibility Code and the Florida Accessibility Manual as a member of the Florida Department of Community Affairs ADA Committee in 1985.

Besides Mink’s election to head the 250-member BOMA group in Broward, Palm Beach, Dade and Martin Counties, other new officers are Cary Fronstin, Trammell Crow Co., president-elect; Devin Grandis, Advanced Power Technologies Inc., vice president; and Suzanne Bockar, Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc., secretary-treasurer. The new positions are effective Jan. 1.

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