Lux Condo Owners Face Eviction In Window Dispute

Residents of Palm Bay Tower in Miami are the types to have several silver spoons, a Rolls or two and mega millions.

Alas, in every life-and in this case, in every worn out condo, some rain must fall.

Here's the story: South Florida's rain has brought a deluge of problems for the residents of this swanky and exclusive, but old and outdated condo overlooking Biscayne Bay.

A court order has given the board until mid-February to begin assessing residents and replacing the building's weather-beaten windows. If the board doesn't move forward the city will condemn the tower, cut the electricity and force residents out.
Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff pleaded with his colleagues on the commission to halt the process. The commission voted in support but have no legal say in what happens next.

Not everyone in town is sympathetic with the residents' plight. "This is a caricature of real problems. It's scandalous when you think of the real tragedy of real evictions and people suffering and having to leave their home," Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., a Palm Bay resident and founder of the Wolfsonian Museum, told The Miami Herald earlier this month.

Residents have been at war with each other since 2006 when the city was hit by hurricanes Wilma and Katrina. Fed up with water leaking in through their panes, a group of residents lobbied the board for the windows to be replaced. Another group said the aluminum-framed windows in the building, which was constructed in 1972, were just fine.

Big deal? Cheap owners? Big bucks!

Replacing the 1,875 floor-to-ceiling pains of glass and sliding glass doors throughout the building will cost about $5 million, a paltry sum when most residents are worth much more.

But with only 72 units, the cost of the repairs per condo is about $50,000 to $60,000, and several residents own more than one unit. The economic slowdown and Wall Street's tumbles have taken a bite of out of some residents' net worth, provoking many to wonder if the expense is really needed right now.

What will happen next could be determined on Tuesday, January. 26, when Sarnoff and building officials host a town-hall meeting with residents to resolve the dispute and begin repairs-maybe.

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