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What If Your Condo's Special Assessment Was $80,000? It Could Happen Here

By Ted Cox | January 24, 2017 5:37am
 The Kennelly Square condominium, which looms over the Hermon Baptist Church, faces an estimated $18 million repair bill.
The Kennelly Square condominium, which looms over the Hermon Baptist Church, faces an estimated $18 million repair bill.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

OLD TOWN TRIANGLE — And you thought your condo's special assessment was big.

An Old Town condominium building is facing an estimated $18 million repair bill — leaving some residents on the hook for one-time payments of as much as $80,000.

Bruce Theobald, a condo owner at the Kennelly Square condominium at 1749 N. Wells St., said the more than 260 unit owners had been told that estimated repairs were $18 million, requiring a special assessment.

According to Theobald, that would mean "rough numbers" of about $30,000 for a studio, $50,000 for a one-bedroom and as much as $80,000 for a two-bedroom.

"This problem has been developing literally for decades," Theobald said, adding that repairs were put off too long.

Theobald, who is also a real estate broker, said that makes a compelling case for selling the building in a so-called deconversion, returning it to apartments. He accused the Kennelly Square Condo Association Board of not adequately pursuing that as an option.

Theobald called it "a building in a state of crisis," saying that the property manager had passed along figures that the city was mandating $2 million in necessary repairs, while "reskinning" the building — a practice that has been called an "energy-saving face-lift" — would bring the total cost to $18 million.

"That's enormous," Theobald said, citing that the building is valued at about $60 million. "If your car got in an accident and they said it was going to cost one-third of the value of the car to repair it, you'd say send that thing to the junkyard. I don't want it."

The building was built in 1972 and converted to condos in 1979.

Theobald said a "growing faction" of condo owners are pushing for a sale, and he was cheered during a condo association meeting last week where the board agreed to seek an appraisal of the building, a tentative first step toward putting it on the market. He sent an email to condo owners last week stating: "Deconversions have become popular as of late, and a deconversion could bring you a price of as much as 40 percent to 50 percent over the current market value of your unit."

Otherwise, he said, "The board is not moving far enough fast enough on the sale issue."

Theobald insisted, "We can investigate the repair issue and the sale issue simultaneously" on the way to making a swift and accurate final decision.

Board President Kate Reuland said, in fact, that's exactly where things stand.

"No decision has been made. There has been no decision, period," Reuland said Monday. "It's all under consideration."

Said Reuland: "Our condo association is facing some important decisions," but she sought to keep the decision-making process in house, suggesting that a public debate "can upset people needlessly" and potentially interfere with the marketing of the building.

Theobald countered that a debate could put a sale on the fast track.

"I hope that the word gets out to interested buyers," he said, adding that they "don't have to wait for it to officially go on sale" to make an offer.

Theobald acknowledged a sense of "urgency," with any repairs to begin as soon as possible this spring. Reuland added that the board was looking to make a decision by mid-March.

Condo owners would have to reveal the condition of the building whether they pursued individual sales or wanted to sell the whole building. 

"We should have investigated the sale issue first," he said. "They didn't. We can't turn back the clock."