Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
By Caroline Glenn
Published October 19, 2019
Seven years since repairs
began, Orlando’s largest condominium complex
appears to have righted the shoddy
workmanship that for years plagued the
condos, racking up millions of dollars in
damage, hundreds of code violations and
millions of dollars in fines from the city.
The Hamptons at MetroWest,
a well-appointed gated community in
southwest Orlando, was converted from
apartments to condos in the mid-2000s and
billed as “the best of MetroWest." But soon,
the faulty construction began to show.
Inside the complex of
more than 700 units at 6401 Time Square Ave.
was mold and mildew, eroding foundations,
rotted porch railings and ceilings split
from water damage. There were rotting walls,
leaky sliding-glass doors, improperly
installed windows and nails popping out of
the walls, a lawsuit claimed.
The damage was so severe one Orange County
judge described the community as “unfit for
For years the walls of the multi-colored
condos were marked with large cracks, roofs
were covered by blue tarps and the buildings
were surrounded by scaffolding and orange
traffic cones as the condominium association
tried to fix the mess.
Finally, the repairs are done.
“All the cases are now finalized, all the
repairs have been made, everything has been
inspected, and the city issued a certificate
of compliance on all the cases,” said Scott
Newsom, an attorney for the Hamptons. “So
this was the last step in what has been a
very long process."
The Hamptons at MetroWest is pictured on Wednesday,
October 16, 2019. The condo association had been plagued by code
violations, but has had the fines reduced.
Orlando’s code enforcement board last week agreed to reduce the condo
association’s fines from nearly $3 million to just $150,007, as long as the
tab is paid by next October. In 2015, the board similarly lowered the
association’s fines from $2.3 million to $26,000, which the association
At one point, fines amassed to $4 million.
Newsom estimated the association has spent well more than $22 million on
repairs. Beth Monaco, a longtime member of the association, told the board a
$10 million loan also was taken out.
The condo association’s only source of revenue comes from assessments paid
by tenants. If the fine had not been reduced, Newsom said it would have been
devastating to the association’s finances.
Mike Rhodes, economic development deputy director for the city and overseer
of code enforcement, said the entire process was “pretty unprecedented."
“It’s been frustrating that the process has taken so long,” he said. “The
process went on for the better part of 11 years.”
He said it’s not uncommon for fines for code violations to be lowered.
“For us, it’s not about the fines. It’s about getting the code violations
resolved, making sure that the property’s safe,” Rhodes said.
In 2010, the Hamptons had more foreclosures than possibly any other
neighborhood in Orlando. More than half the condos were in foreclosure at
some point, including the community’s sales center.
Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan at the time told the Orlando
Sentinel only 81 property owners lived on the premises. He called it “the
worst of the worst.” Newsom said almost all the units are occupied now.
The original apartments, known then as Park Place at MetroWest, were built
by Epoch Properties Inc. and converted to condos right before the housing
bubble burst. At the time, they went for more than $200,000. Today, some
units are listed online for as low as $160,000.
Epoch sold the 70-acre property to Tarragon South Development Corp. and
Sunvest Communities for $90 million in 2004. Epoch has maintained the
apartments were built to code and argued that the people they sold it to
Four years later, the condo association sued the apartment builders, the
condo converters and several other firms who worked on the property, but
several had gone bankrupt by that time. Repairs began in 2012.
Newsom said ongoing litigation, unpaid association dues and the substantial
amount of work belabored the repair process. Every building was affected, he
“You’re talking about 59 buildings," Newsmon said. "You’re taking the entire
exterior skin off of some of these buildings. You’re talking about an
extensive amount of work.”