Sudler Property Management Company, the management company for the 111 E. Chestnut Condominium Association in Chicago, today announced a real estate giveaway. First come first serve, you squat on a common element at 111, it’s yours.
Too good to be true? Of course. But there is a bit of a land rush happening here. It’s not necessarily in the open, or available to everyone, but still.
By way of background, “land rush” refers to a historical event in which previously restricted land of the United States was opened to homestead on a first arrival basis.
Yipee! Free!! We, too, are just givin’ it away.
Okay, for the record, we had planned to charge a fee. But that’s been variously obfuscated by our board president. Keep in mind, not so coincidentally he’s benefited by the cover up. [Note “self dealing.”]
By way of a little forensics:
1. On around March 18, 2011, Milazzo entered into a contract with the Association. After much discussion with the Association’s legal counsel, as well as a real estate appraisal by an agent of Milazzo, he agreed to license a portion of our common element as part of a build-out into the hallway of his unit 51A. “As consideration for the License, the Owner agrees to pay the first year to the Association the sum of $8,538.00 during the License period.” Additionally, his monthly assessments were to increase proportionate to the space he was taking.
2. At the July 2011 board meeting, debate ensued regarding an appraisal equation that would apply to all future homesteaders. Board Director Connolly argued that a one-time sum based on an appraised increase in value of a unit “was not good policy,” i.e.”value should be based on the resource and not what the resource becomes.” Millazzo’s sum was based on the increase in value of his unit not what the hallway real estate was worth to the Association.
Per the board meeting minutes, “Upon a motion made by Connolly, seconded by Donna Simpson and carried with three in favor [Boucher, Connolly, Simpson], one opposed [Lane], and one abstention [Milazzo], Milazzo will be refunded his $8,500 for common corridor usage.” However, that was to be temporary. The Board directed that “This topic be reassessed once a policy is established.” It was the Board’s intention that that happen directly.
3. At the November 2011 Board Meeting, then Board President Milazzo “motioned to table approval of charges related to the common areas.”
4. At the August 2012 board meeting, more than a year after Milazzo had tabled the topic, it resurfaced:
“Property Supervisor Bob Graf presented information and options regarding requiring a common area license agreement with Owners who have built out their unit into a portion of the common area hallway. In the past, our attorney noted there should have been a charge for the acquisition of this space. We will go back to Patti O’Connor and have our decision vetted by her. Treasurer Fish made a motion to charge everyone the same amount per square foot based on their August 21, 2012 Board Meeting assessment. Cheryl Jansen seconded the motion. The vote was not unanimous; roll call was collected. The vote was as follows: DelMonico: Y, Fredette: N, Brush: Y, Jansen: Y, Fish: Y, Milazzo: Abstained.”
“The current board is now aware that it cannot and should not turn a blind eye to this type of ‘taking’ of common elements and the board cannot and should not repeat the mistakes of its predecessors. It is therefore appropriate to require this Owner to enter into a license agreement as I’ve previously described and, if the Board deems justified, pay a fee for the exclusive use of the hallway space.”
“The Board can approve the remodeling of Unit 51A, including expansion into the Common Element hallway to create a new entrance, provided that the approval is documented by a temporary license agreement. The license agreement would provide that the Unit Owner has the right to expand into the hallway, but gives the board the right to terminate the license if the Unit Owner fails to properly build-out or maintain the enclosure, or pay whatever annual license fee to board assesses for the enclosure. The Board typically assesses an annual license fee that is determined based upon the fair market value of the square footage at the time of construction, which then escalates every year in accordance with the percentage increase in assessments.”
5. A few months after the August meeting, Milazzo seconded the motion to replace Leventhal Pearlstein, i.e. Patti conveniently took a powder.
6. On August 30, 2013, Milazzo got a sweet deal on 56AB. That unit also now apparently has a build-out into the common elements.
Since March 18, 2011, how much has our board president, your fiduciary, paid on his license agreement? Anyone?
But, so what. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If our board president can self indulge, we all can. Let’s make the common elements open season for all. You want to take space out into the hallway, have at it, squatter’s rights. Word is, the Thillens are thinking of permanently roping off their spot at the pool; Craig Nelson will claim a grill and a table on the deck; Richard Evans now owns a portion of the management office; and the conference room now belongs to Jeremy Lane.
For more information on how you, too, can confiscate common element at 111 for free, contact the board president or management. But whatever you do, DON’T PUT IT IN WRITING. The last thing they need right now is a paper trail.
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STORY UPDATE 5-12-14: Added the appraisal made by Milazzo of the value of the common-element build-out with his unit 51A.