(WSVN) - When the county said his building was unsafe, he decided to tear it down. But trying to get it demolished has cost him tens of thousands, and nothing has been done, so he turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Edison looks at an old newspaper, he sees stories about a young Edison.

Edison Wheeler: “I used to go out there and race, and the attendance was always better when I would come out.”

Edison was one of the first Black drag racers in a car he built and named Super Soul.

Edison Wheeler: “When I had the race car going, I had Super Soul jumpsuits.”

He also owns about half a block in Broward County with his mechanic shop and an apartment complex he built in the 1970s.

That was then.

Edison Wheeler: “Combining two and three apartments together.”

This is now.

Edison Wheeler: “I guess I didn’t get the right permits and everything when I was getting it built.”

Broward County declared his building unsafe. Rather than try to fix it up, Edison decided to hire someone to demolish it all.

Edison Wheeler: “The man’s name is Gambino, and he was going to tear it down for me.”

Stefano Marco Gambino runs GNG Moving & Storage.

Edison says he was told Gambino would demolish the building, but he was either misled or misunderstood, because Gambino doesn’t have a license for that and listed himself as a consultant on the contract.

Edison Wheeler: “I trusted him because he wasn’t trying to hide a duck and dodge me.”

Edison agreed to pay Gambino $31,950 and gave him an $11,182 deposit.

Edison Wheeler: “He claimed that the county would not give him permits to get it torn down.”

At the same time, Broward County started fining Edison for the unsafe property.

Edison Wheeler: “So far, they’ve charged me $30,800.”

Edison says Gambino told him he needed more money for asbestos removal, surveys and other things. Edison kept writing checks to him.

Edison Wheeler: “Twenty-eight thousand four hundred dollars. I have the checks.”

Gambino took out some windows, knocked down a few doors, but no demolition, as the money keeps pouring out of Edison’s bank account.

Edison Wheeler: “I want the building torn down.”

Legally, where does Edison stand? Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Edison could have hired the demolition company himself or done what many people do: hire a consultant to do all the difficult permitting work. That drives up the cost. Also, there are many rules and regulations governing the demolition. That can cause delays and also add to the cost. So in this contract, everything appears to be legal, just frustrating for Edison.”

As we did our research, we discovered that the consultant, Marco Gambino, got $17,000 more than the money agreed to in the contract.

He said he used the money to pay for unexpected hurdles. That “everything” has been conducted in a “professional manner.”

We then spoke to the owner of Riteway Demolition, who told us he was waiting on a final permit.

We contacted the county. They issued it.

The work Edison wanted began .

Tony Stern, Riteway Demolition: “Yes, I’m very happy. My guys did a great job.”

Tony got the $32,000 agreed to in the contract for his demolition work, counting the $17,000 Gambino got.

Edison paid $49,000, and then he came to see what his money got him.

Edison Wheeler: “Done a lot of work here.”

To help Edison out, after the demolition, Riteway even did cleanup for free that wasn’t in the contract.

Edison Wheeler: “And thanks to Channel 7 and Help Me Howard. Oh, you guys are great.”

Edison says he probably will sell the property now, but he won’t use the money for himself.

Edison Wheeler: “The main thing I want to do now, I have five very beautiful grandchildren, great grands, and their education is my desire at this point. And then I’ll die like everybody else and go to heaven.”

You got a point, Edison.

Now, he had to pay more than he expected for the demolition work, but Edison says that doesn’t bother him because the work was done well.

As for the $30,000 in fines from Broward County, he hopes to get that lowered because he did what the county wanted. We will let you know what happens.

Got a problem you want to demolish? Need a free consultant? Let us bulldoze our way in to construct a solution.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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