Determined homeowners' champion nears her goal

Article Courtesy of The Pelican

By Judy Wilson 

Published April 19, 2016


Deerfield Beach - Eleven years after fire destroyed her condominium in Century Village and Faye Adam became the face of her dozen homeless neighbors, she may go home again to Ventnor B, Unit 36.

Permits to repair the 10 homes damaged in 2005 by the fire are being reviewed by the city. Contractor Joe Marone is hopeful he can begin work later this month.

But nothing is certain. The delay in restoring the condominium units has been the result of a “perfect storm” of disasters. First, a fire roared through holes left by cable TV installers in the attic firewalls.

Then, three months later, Hurricane Wilma wrecked havoc resulting in construction delays, insurance company failures and stringent new building codes. And finally, seeking reimbursement, Ventnor B homeowners filed lawsuits which moved slowly through the courts.

Adam, now 85, president of the Ventnor B condo board, along with board treasurer Ross Gilson, has been involved every step of the way .


Says Marone, “I never, ever worked for an older individual representing acondo association who is so astute about construction. Her energy and intellect are truly amazing.”

Faye Adam stands at the door of her condo where she hopes repairs will be made this summer. She has spent 11 years fighting for fairer insurance payouts and questioning the management at Century Village East.

Ventnor B’s Attorney Joe Garrity who won a $1 million lawsuit against Century Village East Master Management, praises Adam for “keeping the drums beating” and for her resilience. “Many residents didn’t make it to the finish line,” he said.

And Adam herself says, “I don’t have time to grow old. . . but lessons learned at my age should never have to be learned.”
Only four of the 10 unitowners are still present. Four let their homes go into foreclosure and the others have died. For most, the fire added financial burdens hard to overcome as they had to find other housing while still paying mortgages and homeowners’ fees on the damaged units.

The first lawsuit against Adelphi Cable Company [which by then had been acquired by Comcast] was settled for an amount far less than the cost of repairs. Also named in the lawsuit, Master Management refused to settle and took the case to court. Last summer it was found guilty of negligence, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.


Adam says the governing boards of Century Village East [CVE] allowed the cable work to be done without permits. The fire occurred one year after the cable was installed. The other major issue was that the governing board under insured Ventnor’s gardenstyle buildings. The insurance company – since defunct - offered only $173,000 to repair the 10 units. “The policy was for $725,000 but there were fine print clauses that mitigated the payout,” Adam said.

She eventually appealed to then State Senator Ted Deutch and United States Rep. Bob Wexler for compensation through the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association and Adam was successful. But by then costs for repairing the units had soared. A complication was the rewrite of the South Florida Building Code which required roofs, doors, windows, etc. to meet a much higher – and more costly - standard.

Faye Adam sits inside her condo which was destroyed in a 2005 fire.


Gilson says the repairs could have been done under the old code for the money offered by the insurance company and later by the state insurance fund. But at the end of the day, he too lays blame on The Village corporation that purchased the insurance. “The inadequacy of the insurance caused the shortfall in the ability to make repairs. The refusal of the corporation to accept responsibility caused the delays,“ he said.

Attorney Garrity is not quite finished with his efforts to improve management practices at CVE. One more lawsuit is pending. It claims the 252 homeowner associations in The Village should control the common areas [easements] around each building. Master Management disagrees. The case could be argued next month. “There is a lot of personal satisfaction in completing this,” he said of his long journey through five complicated lawsuits.

The $1 million award from the CVE Master Management lawsuit paid for restoration of the common elements in Ventnor B and gave every unit owner in the other garden apartments money to repair their firewalls.

Now the Ventnor B interiors will be reconstructed at the homeowner’s expense after Marone installs electric, plumbing and drywall. Adam is planning her color scheme and flooring: something bolder than the pastels she used to favor, and wood for the living room and bedroom. She will re-install her mirrored walls because, she says, she had them in the home where her children grew up so she could see them from almost every room. “They are my signature décor,” she said with a chuckle.

She is most eager to see her balcony enclosed again so she can recreate her office and library. She will bring back to Number 36 only her old bedroom set. The rest of her furnishings were destroyed in the fire.

Adam is effusive in her praise for Gilson who has spent years researching condo documents and building plans. “Without Ross this building would have been a parking lot,” she said this week. “He is instrumental in getting us back in.”

For all the players in this saga, their attorney Garrity has a positive thought. “I can’t wait to go to the ribbon cutting for Ventnor B. I’ll bring the champagne,” he said.