By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Whitehall City Council votes to move forward with condo purchase
Meghan Matthews, 10TV.com
A decade-old battle over property in Whitehall came to an end Tuesday night as City Council moved forward to buy it.
Council members voted to go ahead with the purchase of the 37-acre site, known as the Woodcliff Condominiums.
City officials say the offer of $8.8 million was accepted by the condo association.
The city says it’s been working for 11 years to remove what they call, a “blighted property.”
“The offer to purchase and the acceptance of that offer by all interested parties in the city’s opinion is a fair and final resolution to abate the Woodcliff Condominium property as a blighted area to the city of Whitehall,” City Attorney Michael Bivens said.
Unit owners have until the end of May to object to the proposed distribution of proceeds.
A distribution hearing is set for June.
The story of Woodcliff Condominiums, located in Whitehall, Ohio, is one of a turbulent past.
The housing complex dates back to the 1950s, and has a reported history of problems with sewage backups, roach and rodent infestations, gang activity, and violent crime.
For years, tenants have made up the majority of residents at Woodcliff.
A decade ago, according to reports from 10 TV, a judge declared the entire 317 unit complex a “nuisance.” There were rumors that the City of Whitehall had plans to use eminent domain to demolish the homes and redevelop the site.
Amid backlash to its attempts to oust all condo owners and residents in 2008, the City agreed to give Woodcliff Condo Association until 2014 to clean up its act and build up its reserves.
So a receiver was appointed to collect past due assessments, clean up the property, and take care of deferred maintenance.
By 2012, investors began purchasing foreclosed and abandoned units for just a few thousand dollars. Many of the units were remodeled with new heating, windows, appliances, and refurbished kitchens, bathrooms, lighting, and flooring.
A marketing video (referenced below) shows off the model unit, advertised as a “rent-to-own” for $699 per month. However, only $100 per month was payable toward a down payment for purchase, so most of Woodcliff’s residents remain as tenants.
Unfortunately, not all landlord owners were fixing and maintaining their properties. In 2012, one resident injured his knee after falling through a deteriorated concrete stoop that crumbled under his weight.
In 2013, The Columbus Dispatch reported that 100 of the units were owned by WC Management Company, that owners were paying a mere $60 per unit in monthly condo fees, and that the association was broke, with no money in its reserve fund. The association had cycled through three Receivers, none of them able to make the association solvent.
By 2015, according to report in Ths Week Community News, all but a few dozen of the units had been refurbished by investors. Since 2012, condo association president. Steve Close, has accused the City of using code enforcement violations to take over the entire association by eminent domain.
The City argued that many of the rented units had not obtained certificates of occupancy. Nearly a half million dollars had been spent on legal fees alone.
City leaders said the legal mess was complicated by the fact that Woodcliff Condo Association consists of many different owners, some of them uncooperative.
Now City Council has offered to pay the condo association $9 million to walk away from their investments. That amounts to a little more than $28,000 per unit.
But condo owners say it’s a bad deal, especially for remodeled units.
Reports on the current condition of Woodcliff Condominiums are mixed. Some units are in good shape, some are in very poor condition, and remain vacant.
The Association is not financially solvent, and there’s no plan in place to bring water and sewer supply lines up to current codes, which require separate meters for each unit. (Supply lines are currently shared by each building, causing utility collection problems.)
No easy solutions to this mess. But it does appear that Woodliff Condominium Association may be very near the end of its existence.
See article/video links below, for a history of Woodcliff Condo Association.
Whitehall council wants to pay condo owners to give up property
Kevin Landers (10tv.com)
PUBLISHED: 03/20/18 04:13 PM EDT
UPDATED: 03/20/18 06:24 PM EDT
Tuesday night the City of Whitehall will discuss the $9 million offer to buy the Woodcliff Condominiums. They sit on 37 acres of prime city real estate.
For the past 10 years, Whitehall has worked to remove what they call a “blighted property.” This decade-old battle pits condo owners against the city’s development department.
The city says the property doesn’t meet current code. Condo owners say that’s not the case.
Chris Miller owns one condo and says he’s not giving up his property without a fight.
“Whitehall wants this property to develop it not because it’s blighted, not because it’s nuisance it’s not a problem in any way they just want the property its government overreach,” he says.
Whitehall’s Attorney Joseph R. Durham says there’s a reason why the city believes the property is a nuisance.
First, the property has a sanitary sewage problem; instead of having two separate sewage lines from each building there’s one.
Second, the properties have only one water line leaving the property. He says he gets constant emails from renters who say their water was turned off because their neighbor didn’t pay the water bill.
He says every time there’s a sewage problem it costs the city $18,000 to fix. He says that’s the job of the condo association, but it’s broke, he says.
Now the city of Whitehall is offering what essentially is a settlement to end this dispute once and for all.
The condo association will have to approve it.
Read more (Video):
A report earlier in the week highlights the problems at Woodcliff, including tenant reports of owners that don’t care about maintaining the property.
Whitehall wants to tear down condos deemed a ‘nuisance’
PUBLISHED: 03/16/18 10:08 AM EDT
UPDATED: 03/19/18 10:51 AM EDT
Whitehall’s Woodcliff Condominiums are in a state of disrepair and the city of Whitehall wants to use eminent domain to tear them down.
Council will have a second reading on the matter at its next council meeting.
The property, located at 4864 East Broad Street, has 127 owners. There are 317 condos.
Not all of them are occupied. A tour of the property shows some are abandoned an uninhabitable.
In an attempt to resolve a long-standing dispute with the Woodcliff Condo Unit Association, Whitehall City Council has proposed paying the owners $9 million to walk away from the property so the city can take it over and most likely tear it down.
A receiver has been appointed to either accept or reject the city’s offer, but before that can happen all of the owners must be notified. The problem is some of the units are owned by a foreign investment firm in China.
Columbus attorney Jim Connors represents WCUA. He disputes the city’s characterization that the property is a nuisance. He says new owners have come in and made significant improvements, but could not say what specifically.
He tells 10TV, ” There has been a great deal of rehabilitation.”
Read more (Video):
To give the reader an idea of the value of Woodcliff condominium units:
A remodeled condo unit at 141 Woodcliff Dr. Sold for $52,500 five months ago. According to the listing, it’s rented for $850 per month.
140 Woodcliff Drive, advertised as in need of TLC, sold for $26,000 in August 2017.
Posted Nov. 27, 2012
Posted Aug. 12, 2012
Whitehall Takes Aim At ‘Problem Condos’. (10TV, May 29, 2012)
Tenants: City should be ‘open and honest’ about development plans (This Week Community News, October 6, 2012)
Whitehall condo complex still stands as its owners, city wrangle (The Columbus Dispatch, August 23, 2013)
City-Woodcliff resolution is still unsettled (This Week Community News, May 22, 2015)