Iowa developer forbids hurricane shutters on outside of Boca condominium windows

Article Courtesy of the Boca Raton News

By Sean Salai
Posted June 30, 2005

Banyan Lakes, as one might guess from its name, was one of the most debris-laden condominium developments in Boca Raton during last year’s record hurricane season.

In fact, when an Iowa developer purchased and began converting the 300-unit development from rentals last autumn, workers were still removing fallen banyan trees as potential homebuyers arrived for an open house.

The homebuyers, of course, never dreamed that the Des Moines-based BH Management would forbid them from putting up hurricane shutters outside of their windows.

But that’s exactly what the Iowa developer did at the start of hurricane season this month, and it’s got some residents fuming.

“People here were losing roofs and windows last fall that cost them a fortune to replace. To me, anyone in their right mind would have shutters. I mean, come on, we live in a hurricane state,” said Robin J. Traiger, a resident of 8273 Thames Blvd., Apt. A.

She added, “It’s disturbing to me that one developer can dictate to people that they can’t protect themselves. I don’t know how that person sleeps at night.”

Traiger, a psychotherapist who lives alone, saw the fallen trees and broken windows when she relocated from Fort Lauderdale last November.

Four weeks ago, when she asked a handyman to do some repairs and put up plywood hurricane shutters, she e-mailed the property manager for permission.

The manager consulted with the developer and said “no,” but offered to let her put the shutters inside of her windows.

“That’s kind of crazy,” Traiger said. “If the window breaks, what’s the point?”

Celeste Il Grande, the property manager working for BH Management, said the company wants the condos to look attractive until renovations are complete in six months and the rest of the units are sold.

“Apparently, because they are condos, the developer is not allowing shutters on the windows at this time. Once it is developed, the membership can vote on shutters,” Il Grande said.

She added, “A lot of neighbors are concerned, but hopefully we won’t have any hurricanes this year. I’m flexible, but I was informed that they don’t want anything attached to the outside of the building right now.”

Il Grande said she had been contracted as the property manager since May 10.

The remaining renovations mostly concern finishing the clubhouse, a project that will be completed within six months. After that, many of the units will still need to be sold, a process for which Il Grande could give no estimate.

On thing is for certain: The development will not be completed and in the hands of a homeowners’ association before the end of the current hurricane season.

Which leaves the residents, for all intents and purposes, at the mercy of BH Management.
Banyan Lakes is located between Boca Rio Road and Lyons Road, and is bordered by Southwest Eighth and Eighteenth Streets.