UPDATED, March 4, 10:15 a.m.: The only waterfront high-rise in Miami’s Upper Eastside neighborhood is a case study in condo board neglect, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
Ten unit owners at the Palm Bay Towers are suing their condominium association and property manager KW Property Management & Consulting in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, alleging that both have willfully ignored major repairs to the building and the property’s condemned marina.
“Allowing the marina to be condemned has pushed our property values down to half of what they were,” Thomas Marrazza, one of the plaintiffs who owns a 19th floor unit, told The Real Deal. “My condo previously had a market value of $1.6 million. Now it’s worth roughly $800,000. Meanwhile, our maintenance fees have more than doubled from around $1,000 a month to about $3,300 without any noticeable improvement in the maintenance and our quality of life.”
According to the lawsuit, the current condo board has made it its mission to run down the 26-story Palm Bay Towers at 720 Northeast 69th Street, by failing to make repairs to the building’s common areas and exteriors, such as fixing water intrusion in the lobby, cracking stucco and concrete on the balcony edges, and replacing missing ceiling tiles and corroded and deteriorating metal doors.
The five-member board includes The Vagabond Group co-founder Daliah Lagoa, who along with partner and developer Avra Jain own and live in a unit in the Palm Bay Towers.
Geralyn Passaro, the attorney for the Palm Bay Towers Condominium Association, said the board members declined comment. KW Management & Consulting said via email that it denies the allegations and is moving to try to dismiss the complaint.
Allowing the marina to be condemned by the city of Miami in February 2019 has been the most egregious act of neglect by the board, according to Marrazza and two other plaintiffs who spoke to TRD. An unsafe structures notice posted by the city states that the concrete dock is showing “advance signs of structural stress, cracks and caving in.”
The lawsuit alleges the condo association was forced to close the marina, and boat owners who rented slips had to remove their vessels. For more than a year-and-a-half, Palm Bay Towers has lost revenue from not having an operational marina, and unit owners have been deprived of its use, the complaint states. In addition, unit owners’ monthly maintenance fees increased to make up for the lost revenue.
“We have been damaged with the loss of property value and lost income from the marina,” Marrazza said. “All of this has increased expenditures and decreased our property values. We need to stop the path we are going on.”
Carlos Lopez-Albear, a plaintiff who owns a two-story penthouse at Palm Bay Towers, said the board has shown a pattern of mismanagement and breach of its fiduciary duty.
“The board has been overspending and mismanaging funds on projects that should not have taken priority over our marina,” Lopez-Albear said. “We’ve lost about $300,000 in annual revenue. Palm Bay Towers is the poster child for the abuses that run rampant in Florida condo associations.”