Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
Published July 7, 2015
Efforts of an investor to kick owners out of their homes
in a Century Village building appear to have been blocked by motivated
residents and a newly passed law.
But the man who developed the well-known retirement community west of West
Palm Beach more than 40 years ago told residents Friday that they must
become proactive to ensure that others in the 7,850-unit development don’t
become vulnerable to similar attempts.
“The whole concept of (condominiums) was that unit owners
would be participating in ... making decisions.”
H. Irwin Levy, 89, told a delegates’
meeting of Century Village’s United Civic Organization (UCO)
in the community’s clubhouse. “Apparently a lot of people
are just ignoring it. If you don’t exercise that right, you
start the problem of losing control. You want to control who
lives there. It’s your responsibility.”
The delegate assembly was spirited and at times contentious.
“Try to behave! You’re on television!”
warned UCO president David Israel as residents shouted each
other down over who got to speak next and whether they were
asking real questions or making speeches. “Don’t make a
Century Village founder Levy takes first steps to
They were responding to growing concerns about the Sheffield O building,
where 17 of the 24 units are owned by a single investor, Palm Beach County’s
Donald T. Kelly, who also has power of attorney over two others. Recently,
resident Nancy Salmi reported receiving a letter from Kelly stating his
intention to dissolve the building’s condo association, which he claimed
would then give him the right to force the sale of the other units,
including Salmi’s, at the Palm Beach County Appraiser’s value.
There are more than 600 building and 308
associations, which makes things “a little chaotic,” said
Century Village resident Donald Foster, the assistant editor
of the UCO Reporter, the body’s official publication.
Foster said Kelly “found a weak association” with Sheffield
While Florida law would give Kelly the rights he claimed if
he owned 21 units, or 80 percent, Levy told the group Friday
that Kelly’s efforts would be blocked if at least 10 percent
of the owners officially objected. That would require three
residents. As of Friday, five, including Salmi, had done
just that, meaning for the moment Kelly would be unable to
take control, Levy said.
Also, a new state law that went into effect Wednesday
prohibits voting for owners who are not up to date in paying
their association fees, which Kelly planned to do for two of
his units that the association has started foreclosure
Century Village residents listen Friday at their
clubhouse to a talk by H. Irwin Levy, who developed the 55-plus
community. Levy told the residents that they had to become proactive
in order to stave off takeover attempts such as that being waged by
investor Donald T. Kelly on the Sheffield O building.
Lawyers hired by Levy sent Kelly a letter this week about the situation with
the old and new laws.
Although there is nothing stopping Kelly from buying new units, or from
paying the recreational fees he owes, residents said they are cautiously
optimistic that they have at least temporarily blocked Kelly’s efforts.
“For right now, it’ll hold,” Salmi said, “but there are other investors out
there. One board member can change everything.”
Meanwhile, Levy, who was introduced to a strong round of applause, voiced
concerns that Kelly was able to buy that much of Sheffield O in the first
place. Because of the average age of the owners in the community, designated
as 55 and over with very few exceptions, Levy said the investor might have
found it easy to snap up units from elderly owners or their families.
However, he suggested that an involved group of residents could have
insisted on being informed about each sale and the intended resident, not
just prospective owner, of each unit.
Levy also pointed out that of the retirement community’s 13,000 residents,
only about 200 attended Friday’s meeting, a small number even considering
the seasonal residency of some owners.
But Levy cautioned worried residents to keep the issues of Sheffield O in
“There are 7,850 units,” Levy said. “We’re talking about 24 of them. Every
building has a separate condo (association). You have elderly owners, who
don’t go to meetings, and then all of a sudden it’s a one-man show.”
Sheffield O resident Yerushah Yehuda was unaware of the Kelly situation when
she and her husband, Shemuel, bought their unit last year “in the middle of
this mess.” During the session’s question-and-answer portion, she asked
whether it was possible to remove Kelly as the president of her building’s
association. She was told no.
Yehuda said she’s never met Kelly because he always participates in building
association meetings by phone. As it is, she said, “all of five people show
up” at the meetings she’s attended.
“Apparently he came in under the radar,” said Yehuda, 57, who recently
received a letter from him demanding the couple’s insurance information.
She refused. “Unless he’s going to pay my bills,” she said during a break in
the meeting, “it’s really none of his business.”