Plantation building director declares all buildings at blast site as 'unsafe structures'

state fire marshal releases shopping plaza to property owner

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Jeff Weinsier - Investigative Reporter

PLANTATION, Fla. - Plantation's building director has declared all of the buildings at the Market on University shopping plaza as "unsafe structures" following the July 6 explosion at a shuttered pizza restaurant.

The office of Mayor Lynn Stoner confirmed Monday that the state fire marshal has released the shopping plaza to the property owner as the investigation into the blast continues.

Business owners told Local 10 News they are looking for guidance and a plan from their landlord --- EDENS, a company that owns and manages 125 properties in the United States, including the Market on University.

"We didn't get any of that," a business owner said.

Customers have told some of the business owners that even when the shopping center is rebuilt, they will be too afraid to come back. EDEN executives reportedly promised daily updates.

The focus of the investigation remains the former location of PizzaFire, a restaurant at 1025 University Dr. that closed. 

Florida records show Adam Bursztein was the owner of PizzaFire. A source familiar with the restaurant said some of their employees were caught off guard when it suddenly shut in December and the owner auctioned off all of the equipment.

EDENS website listed the space as "available" for lease. A nearby tenant said someone was interested in the spot, but there wasn't any new construction.

Store owners, most of whom have insurance, learned it could take 12 to 18 months for the property to be rebuilt.

As authorities continue their investigation, Cherie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for Teco People's Gas, said there were no previous calls for service on the company lines or complaints.

"No construction in the area, and no pipes were replaced in the area," Jacobs said.

Jacobs confirmed, however, that on the day of the blast, someone called to report a smell of gas in the area. She said the explosion occurred before a crew arrived.

Authorities said a ruptured gas line was discovered following the explosion, but have not confirmed whether that was the cause of the blast.

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