More than a month after the Palm Cove of Bradenton Condominium Association was terminated, residents who bought what they thought would be their forever retirement homes are still uncertain of where they will end up.
“We don’t know when we have to be out,” said Robert Blakesly, 65, who owns a condo at Palm Cove, 4550 47th St. W., with his wife, Brenda, 53. “That’s one of those unknown things that’s really eating at us.”
The Blakeslys bought their home in September 2004 after Brenda stepped aside from being a registered nurse to “travel the world” and enjoy life with her husband. Robert Blakesly pointed to a promotional video he saw when making a home-buying decision that sums up the reasons he chose Palm Cove as his place to retire.
But now the couple is caught in an unexpected legal battle. Because the Minnesota-based Riley Family Corp. owns 90.9 percent of voting interests in the condominium and has expressed interest in purchasing the property as part of the termination agreement, the Palm Cove residents and their attorney are bargaining with the Riley Family Corp.’s legal representation, Darren Inverso of Norton Hammersley, to find an agreeable sales price for the condos.
Seventeen owners who own 18 condos are represented by Keven Hennessy of Lewis, Longman and Walker. Through Hennessy, the owners made a $3.7 million sale offer to the Riley Family Corp.’s lawyer, Darren Inverso of Norton Hammersley, according to the demand letter. The amount was based on a $188,000 average per unit price, $5,000 per unit in moving expenses, $100,000 in attorney’s fees and $100,000 to cover closing costs.
The offer was rejected, the Blakeslys said, and now the next step is to have the condos appraised for sale. The appraisals are scheduled for Dec. 5 and 6 and will be carried out by “one or more independent appraisers selected by the association or termination trustee,” according to the Florida Condominium Act.
Many of the Palm Cove residents feel the appraised amounts should not matter and they should be compensated for the amount they paid for their homes.
Heavens, no. I wouldn’t give these people any money. It’s just the plain principal; why would I want to give my money to these people when they told me I have to leave?
Helene Albritton on the possibility of staying in Palm Cove as a tenant
Florida’s current Condominium Act dictates that residents who are homesteaded and who purchased their home from the original developer should, when condominium associations are terminated, receive the price they paid, but Inverso said because the original Palm Cove of Bradenton Condominium Association did not include “Kaufman language,” the 2015 amendments do not apply.
The Florida Constitution contains the contracts clause, which establishes that “the legislature is prohibited from enacting any law that impairs vested rights under a declaration,” according to an entry in the Florida Bar Journal by Eric Glazer and Louis Goetz.
It reads: “While the contracts clause creates a general rule against new statutes impairing existing declarations, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule. First, if the declaration at issue actually incorporates future legislative enactments, new laws become part of the declaration and, therefore, do not impair it. Again, to accomplish this, the declaration must contain language in substantially the following form: ‘This declaration (or association) shall be governed by the Condominium Act, as amended from time-to-time.’ ”
Another thing we want to know is, Why is this being allowed to happen to other people?
Helene Albritton, Palm Cove condo owner
Because the Palm Cove of Bradenton Condominium Association declaration, which officially established the condominium association in May 2006, did not contain the words “as amended from time-to-time,” Inverso argues that “the law that was in existence at the time of recording always applies.”
But many Palm Cove owners feel they shouldn’t be punished for the exclusion of six words from a declaration made more than 10 years ago.
“I spent 20 years in the military fighting for freedom and this is not freedom,” Robert Blakesly said.
“It’s taking away private property for private gain,” said Helene Albritton, another Palm Cove condo owner. “You can’t replace this area right in here. It’s private, it’s secluded and it’s near everything.”
“Our plan was to stay here and pass this to our daughter,” Brenda Blakesly said. “This is devastating and heartbreaking.”