Heritage Square condo owners suing real estate investor
By Jim Thompson
03 January 2017
Square Photo John Roark Athens Banner-Herald
Owners of 10 condominiums in the 46-unit Heritage Square development in
Athens are suing local real estate investor Fred Moorman in an attempt
to stop him from forcing the sale of their units and taking over the
Over the last 10 years, Moorman has acquired units in Heritage Square,
on Sunset Drive near Oglethorpe Avenue across from Bishop Park. He is
now close to acquiring 80 percent of the units, the threshold in state
law at which he would be able to force the other owners to sell.
As of late 2016, Moorman owned 35 of the 46 units, or 76 percent of the
complex. In the last few months of 2016, Moorman bought seven Heritage
Square condominiums through a corporation called 262 College Avenue LLC.
As he has acquired the units, Moorman has become a larger and larger
force in Heritage Square’s business affairs, as the association’s
bylaws have increased his voting power. Tenants and owners of his
Heritage Square units have become a majority of the community’s
condominium association board, and Moorman himself now chairs that
In the lawsuit filed last week in Clarke County Superior Court, the
property owners are asking, in part, that “the election of Moorman and
his affiliates and the appointment of Moorman’s associates [to the
condominium board] be invalidated and voided, that they be removed as
officers and directors and that they be permanently barred from said
offices in the future.”
The lawsuit goes on to allege that sales prices of units acquired by
Moorman have been inaccurately reported, which has driven down values
of other units in Heritage Square. The lawsuit also contends Moorman
has used high-pressure tactics, including threats of eviction,
suggestions that the prices he would pay for condominiums would drop
significantly after he acquired 80 percent of the units, and contending
he could arbitrarily raise condominium association fees, in an attempt
to get favorable deals on the remaining Heritage Square units.
the Moorman-led group approved a $125 monthly
increase in condominium association fees
Some evidence of that approach came at a Nov. 29 meeting of the
condominium association board, as the Moorman-led group approved a $125
monthly increase in condominium association fees, which Moorman
contended was needed to address plumbing problems and other issues in
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who include former Athens-Clarke County
Police Chief Jack Lumpkin and Athens native Michael Thurmond, now CEO
of the government of metropolitan Atlanta’s DeKalb County, are seeking
monetary damages of “not less than $100,000 per condo unit” in addition
to attorney’s fees and “such other relief that this court deems proper.”
Following the Nov. 29 condominium board meeting, Moorman said he has
been acquiring the Heritage Square units as part of a long-term effort
to transform the neighborhood into a mix of residential, commercial and
That effort would also include other properties he owns in the area,
including the Sunset, Park Place and Boardwalk apartment complexes, he
said. The area is already home to a number of office complexes, most of
them hosting medical offices.
“I think it would be a great mixed-use development,” Moorman said after
the Nov. 29 meeting, the final board meeting of last year. The
condominium board’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 31 at Heritage
Moorman said he sees the area, which borders the University of Georgia
Health Sciences Campus in the nearby Normaltown neighborhood, much as
he viewed downtown Athens when he began acquiring property there and
transforming it into residential units aimed largely at student renters.
Moorman has residential space in 10 downtown buildings, most of them
along three blocks of East Clayton Street.
“I think this [the Sunset Drive area] is the same unpainted slate” as
downtown Athens had been some years ago, Moorman said.
Moorman noted the long-term nature of his plan
At the same time, though, Moorman noted the long-term nature of his
plan, and said, “I doubt I’m going to be the one to carry out the
Moorman did not return a telephone call seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Also, neither the spokesman for the Heritage Square property owners,
nor the property owner who filed the lawsuit, had returned telephone
calls as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Moorman has 30 days from the date it was filed to respond to the