Palm Cove condo owners forced to sell, face legal battle to stay in their homes
20 October 2016
Some Manatee County condo owners are now facing eviction, as an investment group tries to turn their units into apartments.
The Harvey family is one of about 30 condo owners now at the center of a legal battle to stay in their units.
"It makes me sick," Robin Harvey said. "I can't believe I would ever be
on television about somebody being able to take our homes without a
According to condo association documents, The Riley Family Trust—a
Minnesota-based company belonging to Siesta Key residents James and
Johnathan Riley—purchased a lump some of units in the Palm Coves
Now, the stakeholders have begun the process of doing away with the
condo association and converting the units into apartments—a process
that means current homeowners have no choice but to sell.
"If someone came in and paid $150,000 for their units, in this case
they face a situation where all they get for it is $100,000," said
attorney Matt Taylor. "And that $50,000 that they don't get, they could
still be responsible for."
Taylor explained that the condo termination plan has nothing to do with
an individual's mortgage so the homeowner is still on the hook for any
shortages in the sale price.
But it isn't just the sale price that's causing concern, because many
of those impacted had no intention of selling in the first place.
One month later, Palm Cove residents still unsure of future
By: Janelle O'Dea
29 November 2016
Palm Cove condominiums in Bradenton remain uncertain about when they
will have to move out and where they will end up. Tiffany Tompkins
More than a month after the Palm Cove of Bradenton Condominium
Association was terminated, residents who bought what they thought
would be their forever retirement homes are still uncertain of where
they will end up.
“We don’t know when we have to be out,” said Robert Blakesly, 65, who
owns a condo at Palm Cove with his wife, Brenda, 53. “That’s one of
those unknown things that’s really eating at us.”
The Blakeslys bought their home in September 2004 after Brenda stepped
aside from being a registered nurse to “travel the world” and enjoy
life with her husband. Robert Blakesly pointed to a promotional video
he saw when making a home-buying decision that sums up the reasons he
chose Palm Cove as his place to retire.
But now the couple is caught in an unexpected legal battle. Because the
Minnesota-based Riley Family Corp. owns 90.9 percent of voting
interests in the condominium and has expressed interest in purchasing
the property as part of the termination agreement, the Palm Cove
residents and their attorney are bargaining with the Riley Family
Corp.’s legal representation, Darren Inverso of Norton Hammersley, to
find an agreeable sales price for the condos.
Seventeen owners who own 18 condos are represented by Keven Hennessy of
Lewis, Longman and Walker. Through Hennessy, the owners made a $3.7
million sale offer to the Riley Family Corp.’s lawyer, Darren Inverso
of Norton Hammersley, according to the demand letter. The amount was
based on a $188,000 average per unit price, $5,000 per unit in moving
expenses, $100,000 in attorney’s fees and $100,000 to cover closing
The offer was rejected, the Blakeslys said, and now the next step is to
have the condos appraised for sale. The appraisals are scheduled for
Dec. 5 and 6 and will be carried out by “one or more independent
appraisers selected by the association or termination trustee,”
according to the Florida Condominium Act.
Many of the Palm Cove residents feel the appraised amounts should not
matter and they should be compensated for the amount they paid for
HEAVENS, NO. I WOULDN’T GIVE THESE PEOPLE ANY MONEY. IT’S JUST
THE PLAIN PRINCIPAL; WHY WOULD I WANT TO GIVE MY MONEY TO THESE PEOPLE
WHEN THEY TOLD ME I HAVE TO LEAVE?
Helene Albritton on the possibility of staying in Palm Cove as a tenant
Florida’s current Condominium Act dictates that residents who are
homesteaded and who purchased their home from the original developer
should, when condominium associations are terminated, receive the price
they paid, but Inverso said because the original Palm Cove of Bradenton
Condominium Association did not include “Kaufman language,” the 2015
amendments do not apply.
The Florida Constitution contains the contracts clause, which
establishes that “the legislature is prohibited from enacting any law
that impairs vested rights under a declaration,” according to an entry
in the Florida Bar Journal by Eric Glazer and Louis Goetz.
It reads: “While the contracts clause creates a general rule against
new statutes impairing existing declarations, there are, of course,
exceptions to the rule. First, if the declaration at issue actually
incorporates future legislative enactments, new laws become part of the
declaration and, therefore, do not impair it. Again, to accomplish
this, the declaration must contain language in substantially the
following form: ‘This declaration (or association) shall be governed by
the Condominium Act, as amended from time-to-time.’ ”
ANOTHER THING WE WANT TO KNOW IS, WHY IS THIS BEING ALLOWED TO HAPPEN TO OTHER PEOPLE?
Helene Albritton, Palm Cove condo owner
Because the Palm Cove of Bradenton Condominium Association declaration,
which officially established the condominium association in May 2006,
did not contain the words “as amended from time-to-time,” Inverso
argues that “the law that was in existence at the time of recording
But many Palm Cove owners feel they shouldn’t be punished for the
exclusion of six words from a declaration made more than 10 years ago.
“I spent 20 years in the military fighting for freedom and this is not freedom,” Robert Blakesly said.
“It’s taking away private property for private gain,” said Helene
Albritton, another Palm Cove condo owner. “You can’t replace this area
right in here. It’s private, it’s secluded and it’s near everything.”
“Our plan was to stay here and pass this to our daughter,” Brenda Blakesly said. “This is devastating and heartbreaking.”