By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Celebration, Florida is a town near Orlando, originally built by Walt Disney. Although it has always been marketed as a utopian version of new urbanism, Celebration has not been without its share of controversy.
The latest one involves a condo complex in Town Center. Take a look at the videos, and you’ll see that these aging condos are literally falling apart. And now owners are facing huge special assessments – at least $20,000-$40,000 per unit. Owners say that maintenance has been deferred for years, despite their repeated complaints.
Keep in mind, as you read and watch the videos below, that, in addition to a condominium association that is majority-owned by an investment company (Lexin Capital), residents in Celebration also reside in a Community Development District (Celebration CDD). It also has a Residential Owners Association. (CROA)
Celebration is not a city or town. But if you live there, you are subject to multiple layers of governance bureaucracy!
No wonder condo owners in Town Center are frustrated, and have resorted to suing their condo association.
Osceola County works to improve troubled condo complex
Updated: Nov 8, 2016 – 5:15 PM (WFTV)
CELEBRATION, Fla. – Osceola County is taking steps to improve a troubled condo complex.
The county has ordered the owners of Lexin to attend a Code Enforcement and Nuisance abatement board meeting to explain what immediate improvements they’ll be making.
“It was about time. About time the county has gotten involved,” said resident Frank Cooper.
Eyewitness News first began reporting on the problems at the condo complex in Celebration in February.
Cooper told Channel 9’s Cierra Putman in August that he’s living in his condo since 2005 and that over the years he’s noticed his condo was sloping.
“Just walk right out, and you’ll feel yourself going down,” Cooper said.
Cooper said the landlord needs to fix the roof and foundation, and that he’s tired of temporary fixes.
Disney built Celebration Town Center, but Lexin bought it in 2004.
Osceola County inspectors reported code violations that include unsafe balconies.
Read more, see VIDEO:
Highlights of the history of Celebration Town Center condos:
Celebration is a massive CDD, Community Development District, large enough to be a city in its own right. Within Celebration there is a Town Center built in the tradition of New Urbanism – a walkable community with shops, restaurants, parks, and community gathering spots. Condominiums comprise much of the housing in Town Center, and the 104 units in 12 buildings, many set atop small businesses on the ground level.
Built by Disney, Town Center was purchased by Lexin in 2004. Lexin owns 60% share of the Town Center Condo Association, and is responsible for exterior maintenance. Roof leaks began in 2006, but owners say Lexin has failed to address these issues for years. As a result, there is damage due to massive wood rot, termite damage, and mold, requiring extensive repairs estimated at $5M as of February 2016. That amounts to $20 -$40 K special assessment per unit, but the total bill could increase, as repairs are ongoing.
Owners are fighting the matter in court. (See below) They argue that Lexin’s prolonged neglect has allowed condo structure to deteriorate, and that, because owners hold a minority of voting interests and seats on the Board, they have been powerless to force timely repairs and preventive maintenance.
Residents in the condo complex are mainly retired adults, including a 91-year old woman who recently purchased her unit. She says the condo association never disclosed the nature of extensive repairs, length of ongoing construction, nor the huge special assessment she would be expected to pay.
See the WFTV-9 interview here:
Some Celebration residents blame repair company for roof damage
Updated: Feb 23, 2016 – 6:20 PM (VIDEO)
And here’s more VIDEO coverage of the lawsuit filed by condo owners: