Can Tampa agency help homeowner after alleged ‘foul play’, arson, contractor probes?

Tampa, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa city councilor asked the city agency for help for a resident whose unfinished home is the focus of an investigation by city inspectors and the fire department.

Community Redevelopment Authority Director Cedric McCray was asked to research funding possibilities to help Mary Browning “finish” her East Caracas home.

Browning and builder Victoria Hopps have been locked in a dispute over construction issues and have been delayed three and a half since the contract to build the house was signed in November 2018.

Two fires were discovered there last Wednesday about two days after the 8 on Your Side report revealed a number of complaints, including the city’s lack of inspection of the frame and part of the floor slab.

At one point during Thursday’s board meeting, McCray addressed the news story.

“I got a text that there was some bad game in the house,” McCray said.

McCray did not respond to questions about whether the CRA could help Browning.

Browning filed a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation about Hopps, who denied she did anything wrong. Hopps does not have any other claims of record with DBPR, according to the agency’s website.

Last week, Hopps said she sent the city a letter from an engineer, with whom she claimed the framing was in accordance with the code.

But in an email, spokeswoman Natalia Verdina said the letter was rejected.

“This was reviewed and rejected due to lack of information on how the engineer arrived at their decision, i.e. testing, revealing work he hid, testing, etc,” she said.

In a text message, Hopps said she forwarded the letter back to her engineer “for repair”.

Hopps blamed the delay on Browning’s revisions and the city’s licensing issues. She recently filed a lawsuit against Browning claiming she was owed nearly $91,000.

Browning, who denies she owes Hopps any money, said she paid her and other contractors about $170,000. The original contract said the house would cost $165,000 to build and that the project would be completed in early 2019. Can Tampa agency help homeowner after alleged ‘foul play’, arson, contractor probes?

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