Courtesy of the Miami Herald
Published November 18, 2005
the first time in seven months, condominium owners in the troubled Castle
Beach Club have regained political control over their dilapidated
Court-ordered condominium elections on Sunday
produced a new board -- one promptly ratified by the same Miami-Dade judge
who suspended the previous board when the city ordered the residents to
evacuate the 527-unit building.
The city cited multiple life-safety code violations
that went unrepaired as bitter disputes between the condo board and other
A court-appointed receiver who had control over the
building still manages its finances, but now the five newly elected condo
representatives have regained an important voice in its future.
''This means a return to democracy in the building,
because for the first time in seven months we finally have a voice in
matters concerning our building,'' said attorney Angel Leal, one of the
new board members. ``It's important because this means for the first time
there is some light at the end of the tunnel.''
The other new members of the board are: Elizabeth
Izquierdo, Sergio Purrinos, Juan Gonzalez and Margarita Suarez-Rivas.
Since the evacuation at 5445 Collins Ave., hundreds
of residents have suffered under the financial burden of maintenance fees,
mortgage payments and special building assessments for apartments in which
they can't live. Many risk losing their units to foreclosure.
The new board, which must answer to court receiver
Robert Stone on financial matters for an unspecified transition period,
faces daunting challenges.
One of the two engineers hired by the receiver, John
Pistorino, has estimated that it would take $25 million to bring the
building up to code. The second engineer hired by Stone, Reymundo Miranda,
has developed a $4 million plan that he says could cover the minimum
repairs while still allowing residents to return to their apartments.
The other repairs would be dealt with later under
''We expect the new board will meet with engineers
next week and establish the initial funding requirement for first phase of
the rehab plan,'' said Joseph Ganguzza, an attorney who represents the
five new board members and many of the owners who supported them. ``With
that phase, we hope to get the building open, hopefully in a time frame of
The funding for that initial phase will likely come
from a special assessment because of the difficulty in obtaining
financing, Ganguzza said.
the building has been declared unsafe by the city and the fact that some
unit owners have begun to default on their maintenance fees, few lenders
are willing to consider financing the multimillion-dollar repairs.