Developers, investment firm plan to buy Eden condos in Boca Raton

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Angel Streeter

Published February 18, 2010

The real estate investment subsidiary of BNY Mellon Corp. and a West Palm Beach-based real estate investment group have partnered to buy the unfinished Eden condominiums in downtown Boca Raton.

The city has completed its agreement with them and the current owner, Ceebraid-Signal of West Palm Beach, to reinstate building permits that were revoked in July after Ceebraid failed to meet certain conditions.

Reissuing the permits was considered critical to the sale of the long-delayed project to buyers. The agreement among the three parties also required Ceebraid to drop lawsuits against the city for revoking the building permits. The city had to return a $750,000 bond by Ceebraid that would be replaced by the new owners.

Urdang Capital Management, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and Priderock Capital Partners, which specializes in acquiring and renovating distressed multifamily units, are expected to complete their purchase of the Eden development within a month.

But condo unit owners are feeling left out in the cold.

"There's no remorse. They're not doing right by anybody," said Michael Weinberg, who owns a condo in Eden. "We're the small guys. We're not important in this big picture. We're the victims."

Several years ago, Ceebraid offered to buy back condo units from buyers as the project stalled. Only one of four buildings has been completed since the project launched in 2003.

In the past two weeks, some of the 26 condo owners began receiving new contracts from a Ceebraid subsidiary, Boca Units LLC, that they said offered less money and under terms that provided them few legal protections.

They were given a Feb. 12 deadline to agree to the new contracts.

Weinberg wanted more time to consult with his lawyer but was told he had to sign an agreement by Friday or he was out of luck.

Other condo owners said they felt rushed.

"They expect me to bow down to their terms to get out," Weinberg said. "They said, ‘You're not going to get a better deal.' "

Weinberg said Ceebraid offered him the amount he paid for his condo minus closing costs, unpaid maintenance fees and a deposit Ceebraid made on the first contract buying back Weinberg's condo.

Ceebraid declined to provide Weinberg, who didn't sign the new agreement, with an estimate for the closing costs.

Representatives of Ceebraid, Urdang and Priderock could not be reached to comment despite attempts by phone and e-mail.

City Council members said they wanted the unit owners to be treated fairly as the Eden development is sold. And city officials passed that concern on to the buyers, said George Brown, deputy city manager.

"It is clearly in the buyers' interest to ensure that the unit owners' situation be addressed, since this will allow them to move forward more expeditiously with finishing the project," he said.

The buyers plan to convert the condominiums into luxury rentals.

Urdang owns apartment complexes, office buildings and retail property throughout the country.

Priderock recently renovated the Glenn at Lauderhill, previously called the Villas at Lauderhill, an apartment complex that had been badly battered by Hurricane Wilma.