Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
By Jodie Wagner
Published August 9, 2019
PALM BEACH GARDENS —
Nearly two years after work began to repair
extensive water damage to all 30 buildings
at the San Matera condominium community,
yellow caution tape seals off portions of
the 100-acre complex, while construction
debris sits in piles in the parking lots.
In April, the
project’s contractor, Fort Myers-based Florida Structural
Group, walked off the job in a payment dispute, according to
homeowners, and work has come to a standstill.
Residents have been left waiting and wondering who is going
to finish a job that was made necessary when water intrusion
caused by design and construction defects damaged many of
the complex’s 676 units.
Work is not complete on any of the buildings, and some
remain without stucco in the midst of hurricane season.
“Principal external wall material of many of the buildings
is Tyvek, not stucco as intended,” said Michael Dan, a San
Matera resident who owns four units in the complex just
north of The Gardens Mall.
Work to repair leaky roofs, poorly pitched porches and other
problems began a year after a $22.5 million settlement was
reached in 2016 between San Matera The Gardens Condominium
Association and insurers for builder Kolter Homes and dozens
Problems surfaced almost immediately after construction was
completed in 2005.
Scaffolding equipment is removed from the San Mateo
condominium complex in Palm Beach Gardens after a contractor hired
to fix water intrusionproblems walked off the job in April.
Construction has yet to resume.
In addition to roof defects that caused water leaks, engineers found
concrete porches weren’t sloped properly, metal lath and stucco were
incorrectly installed, windows failed, and areas that required a single
truss instead had two that weren’t connected at the apex. Light poles didn’t
have sufficient concrete foundations, and concrete flooring slabs were
As a result, water seeped through walls, roofs, windows and sliding glass
“Everybody had a window that had something wrong with it,” Dan said.
After a lawsuit was filed and settled, Florida Structural Group was
contracted to begin repairs on the buildings, the complex’s management
company said. Work proceeded for about 18 months until April 10, when
workers stopped showing up.
“We were supposed to have somebody come and do some work, and they didn’t
come,” Dan said. “And then we saw everyone leave. There was not a single
worker on site the Monday morning afterwards. We asked what was going on.”
Dan and other San Matera residents said answers were hard to come by from
the association’s board and management team.
Eugene Sears, who owns two units in San Matera, said residents weren’t made
aware of any problems with Florida Structural Group prior to the work
stoppage, and weren’t given any information for at least two weeks
“We had to start a letter-writing campaign before the board finally provided
us with some information, and it was no more than what we had already found
out from the court documents or figured out on our own,” he said.
Information still isn’t being provided in a timely manner, some residents
say, but board President Maryann Morrison denies there is a lack of
communication between management and residents. Public meetings are held as
often as possible, she said, and updates are provided when there is new
information to give.
“They are getting information,” she said of residents, some of whom have
aired grievances through a San Matera Owners Facebook group started by Dan.
“We’ve had everybody who’s ever done work on the property into meetings.”
Morrison said the board has spent the past several months working to secure
bids from construction companies interested in completing the project, and
has brought on new legal counsel to protect residents’ interests. The matter
is in litigation — again.
“The construction has been a hindrance in the improvement of our community,”
Morrison said. “Who would have guessed this would have happened a second
A resolution should be coming soon, she said.
In a July 11 email from management, residents were told the board is
negotiating with one construction company on a contract to complete repairs.
There is no timetable, according to management, but the board is looking to
start work as soon as possible.
“We’re trying to rebuild this community,” Morrison said. “We’re trying to
rebuild little by little. ... We’re trying to beautify. We don’t want this
reputation for being the eyesore of the neighborhood.”