Condo fire victims in West Oakland deciding their own fate

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The massive fire will lead to a nine-month delay on the project, and condo owners are being given the option to stay, go or get a discount on a different project. (KGO-TV)

Dozens of families whose nearly completed condos were destroyed in a massive fire in West Oakland on Tuesday are beginning to get answers.

Perhaps the hardest part for these families has been not knowing - not knowing if they would ever move into their new homes and not knowing if their contracts would be honored. For some, that uncertainty is now cleared up.

Crews are demolishing the skeleton that remains of what was once Ice House, the name of the housing project.

RELATED: Fires at 2 Oakland construction sites under investigation

This while investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, sift through the ruins looking for clues.

David Han looks over the destruction on the land he so desperately wants to call home. Han had been looking forward to moving into his first home in March along with his wife Jee and a newborn baby due that same month.

"For a first-time home buyer, it kind of represents we put everything that we have into buying a home. To see someone destroy it is hurtful," Han said.

While arson is suspected, investigators have yet to confirm a cause.

Like so many other families who put down deposits, David is desperate for answers.

Today the developer, City Ventures, assured him they would meet with him within seven days to discuss his options.

RELATED: Oakland condo CEO offers refunds after construction fire

"It does give me a little bit more comfort, " he said.

Matthieu Kaminski and his wife Krislyn had been expecting to move into their home at Ice House around Christmas.

Their first home was one of many milestones they had planned for this year.

"We just got married recently," Kaminski said. "We were very excited to reach this milestone. Now we're starting everything back from the ground and it is very very upsetting."

They were one of at least 10 families the developer met today.

Construction will begin on six buildings on Monday. Families who had already purchased these units can move in as early as June.

For those who don't want to wait, they can get a 10 percent discount to move to another nearby City Ventures development, Station House South, by February.

Those families who choose to stay at the condo they bought can expect up to a nine-month delay.

Families who want to leave will be let out of their contracts.

"We obviously respect their decision if they want to move on," said Phil Kerr, CEO of City Ventures.

He promised his team would meet soon with each individual homeowner by Nov. 9.

Kaminski and his wife Krislyn said despite the setback, they plan to stay.

"We've been struggling. We've saved for years to be able to make this happen. We're committed. We're committed to stay, " Matthieu said.

The two families ABC7 News talked with put deposits down ranging from three to 10 percent to reserve their condo.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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7 On Your Sidebuilding firefireconstructionOaklandWest Oakland
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