Problems continue to rock Hallandale’s Parker Plaza

Residents of a landmark Hallandale Beach oceanfront apartment building have visited police at least five times to present evidence of what they call financial irregularities related to management by the board of directors.

At Parker Plaza, which was designed by Morris Lapidus — the architect associated with the Fontainebleau and Lincoln Road — windows have been covered with plywood for months. Residents, who have already plunked down millions for repairs, are losing patience.

“We’ve had the building under construction for about 27 months now,” said 69-year-old Elisa Ruiz, who has been living in Parker Plaza for a decade alongside her husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and her 90-year-old mother. “We are all very sad and very worried. They have asked us for more money and we don’t trust giving it to them because we have already given them $8 million before and it was a disaster.”

These complaints contrast with the opulent entrance of the building which, following the Lapidus tradition, makes visitors feel the glamour of a bygone era. Residents come from Argentina, Russia and several places in North America.

“When I arrived here, this seemed like a very well maintained and pleasant building to live in, and everything was in its place,” said José Espinel, 74, who bought an apartment three years ago. “It turns out that soon after, there was a $4.5 million assessment we needed to take care of in 2017. It ended up destroying more than half of the balconies; nothing was done. There was no construction only deconstruction. Now they are seeking a second assessment of $14 million on February 14.”

Residents interviewed for this story and a previous one said the building has accumulated maintenance problems during its 49 years. They don’t doubt the need for an assessment.

Back in December, María Inés Marino, a resident who now represents a group of 200 owners, requested that before approving a new excessive fee, the board provide owners with information on how costs were determined. She also asked how much of the prior assessment had been spent to fix the balconies.

Bad drainage from the concrete on the balconies invaded the tranquility of three-quarters of the building two years ago. In February 2019, work stopped for several months. Now, it continues slowly under a new company. Meanwhile, residents of the north and south sides of the building cannot enjoy light or beautiful sunrises over the sea from their balconies, since their apartments are sealed from the outside world with temporary wooden walls.

The board of directors has not submitted any of the documentation that the residents requested in writing and even threatened a lawsuit. Residents have regularly visited police. One resident close to the board said police have been investigating claims of malfeasance — though it is not clear what laws have been broken.

At a meeting on Jan. 21, more than 100 outraged neighbors attended what ended in chaos: neither the directors nor the board’s own lawyer was able to justify the announced lawsuit. Residents, some of which were Cubans, Jews and Russians, exclaimed: “This is not Cuba”; “This is not the Holocaust” and “This is not Russia.” Even so, 24 hours later, the board sent another letter warning the owners that rumors would not be tolerated.

“At no time do we start rumors,” says Marino.

Tonight the board has scheduled a meeting to approve the extraordinary fee of $14 million, instead of the $9 million that was announced in December. These managers propose to solve all the maintenance problems at once. Residents stopped a similar attempt last December. That day, the board agreed to lower the salary of the engineers.

In response to the criticism, the president of the board, Rafael Collazo, explained that the increase was necessary to fix the installation of the windows, “a huge project.”

“We have never had a worse time than the one we have now,” Garcia said. “Before it was different. The office was more open and we got along well with the employees, and we looked forward to living here. Now we want to leave but the property is totally devalued. Who can sell under these conditions? ”

Parker Plaza is one of the almost 90 condominium buildings in Hallandale Beach.

Hallandale Commissioner Anabel Taub-Lina said thousands of people on the Miami-Dade border are affected by management abuses. There are “three to five complaints per week,” she said. “I would say, maybe dozens in a month. And sometimes a person comes to represent about 30 owners.”

As long as the legal vacuum is unsolved, the city will continue to be divided between developers who promise to bring millions with new luxury apartment buildings and residents who see themselves between a rock and a hard place when trying to keep their homes.

Monica Gomez Batista , who is currently finishing her master's degree in broadcast media & journalism at FIU, is from Havana, Cuba. She graduated in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and is passionate about human rights and immigration.

Raised in Denver, Colorado, Priscilla moved to Miami in 2015 to pursue a bachelor's degree in communications and most recently a master's in Spanish language journalism. She believes that good journalism gives a voice and empowers communities. That’s exactly what she plans to do through out her career.