A condemned, formerly blighted building in downtown Frederick was recently slapped with two new citations alleging violations of city property code.
The old Asiana building at 123-125 N. Market St. was cited once in January, for failure to clean up snow and ice on the sidewalk, and again in February, for a broken window, according to the city code enforcement database.
The two new violations are considered minor. But they mark the first code violations found at the long-unoccupied, former blight site in close to a year.
The building has been vacant since around 2001. There have been recurring code violations at the property since 2007, and the building has been condemned since 2011. The property is owned by Julia & James Properties LLC, which lists Duk Hee Ro as its principal. Ro’s company also owns several other downtown properties identified on the city’s blighted property and property watch list.
Ro didn’t return three phone messages seeking comment for this story.
Previously, the Office of Code Enforcement last cited Asiana for a code violation in March 2015. The violation was corrected the same day, but the building has remained on the blight list, condemned for its lack of occupancy and working utilities.
Residents have pointed to the lack of new citations at the building, which still appears largely deteriorated in parts, as a problem with city enforcement measures. But city officials and employees said the open building permits and periodic inspections confirmed ongoing renovation work. Without a code violation, there was no other enforcement tool available, officials have said.
One of the new violations could change that, though. The owners have 30 days from the Feb. 6 citation to repair the broken window, or they will face a $400 fine, according to Dan Hoffman, the city’s division manager of code enforcement.
Hoffman and Brittany Parks, assistant manager for code enforcement, have met with Myung Ro, who is married to Duk Hee Ro, as recently as last week. Parks said he indicated he will fix the window and pay off the lien placed against the property for a contractor to remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk in January.
“He’s a very rational man,” Hoffman said of Myung Ro.
But Ned Bond, a city resident and vocal critic of enforcement related to Asiana, said he doubts the owners would repair the window based on a citation alone.
“They’re not running a business, so they’re not in any hurry to repair,” he said. “They don’t usually fix it until code enforcement really starts to ride them.”
The last time the city cited the property for broken windows and screens, the owners did not correct the problems by the deadline, The Frederick News-Post has reported.
The city took Myung and Duk Hee Ro to court for the fines. In March, Frederick County District Judge Janice Ambrose ordered them to pay the city $3,000 — a $1,000 fine per code violation they did not fix in time.
Bond also said he would be surprised if the city followed through with the $400 fine after the 30-day deadline. He characterized the city’s record of enforcement with regard to the Ro properties as one of “extreme leniency.”
“What they’re selling the public is not what’s really there,” he said about the city’s statements on its enforcement at Asiana.
In an emailed statement on Thursday, Nikki Bamonti, the mayor’s executive assistant, wrote that the property will continue to be monitored until all violations are corrected.
As a whole, she wrote, the Feb. 5 update to the city blighted property and property watch list “demonstrates progress ... and hard work.”
The 30-property list was created in June 2014 and has been updated on a quarterly basis. As of the latest update, one blighted and 13 watch list properties have outstanding violations.