Carrboro condo owners face new fee

CorrespondentOctober 12, 2013 

— Condominium owners at the former Abbey Court apartments have received notice they may receive another assessment from the homeowner’s association.

The apartment complex, now called Collins Crossing, is located on Jones Ferry Road and for several decades was an affordable-housing option for families, students, single parents, newcomers, immigrants and low-paid working people.

Five years ago, a two-bedroom apartment rented for about $450. Today, the complex advertises a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment starting at $740. A two-bedroom, two-bath starts at $795.

Empowerment, Inc., a nonprofit involved in providing affordable housing in the community, owns three units in the complex. Mark Chilton, Carrboro’s mayor who also serves as special projects manager for Empowerment, said the group recieved a notice of an HOA meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at which another possible assessment will be discussed.

“It didn’t say how much that was going to be,” Chilton said.

Alcurt Carrboro LLC, the company that bought about two-thirds of the units at the large apartment complex and therefore controls the homeowner’s association, can assess fees at will.

“They do what they want,” Chilton said.

In March, the homeowner’s association wanted each unit’s owner to pay about $5,000 for improvements to the complex, but Chilton and others were able to negotiate the assessment down to about $3,500 per unit, and homeowners were allowed to pay the assessment over the course of a year.

Wendy Dale, who owns a unit, said she couldn’t afford the assessment. She doesn’t believe the assessment is valid and hasn’t paid any of it. She filed a lawsuit, but a judge dismissed it. She’s appealed that decision.

Dale bought her condo in the complex 2007 when she was a single parent. She moved away last year and rents her condo to a disabled friend. If she doesn’t pay, she may lose her property to foreclosure by the homeowner’s association, she said.

Last time, the homeowner’s association sent out documents with the proposed assessment before the meeting, said Joe Williams, who owns three units in Collins Crossing. This time, no one knows what the proposed assessment will be, he said.

Williams and Dale believe the majority owners want to drive the other owners out of the complex. When Williams was having problems with a water leak in a unit above one of his units causing water to drip down and damage his unit, the homeowner’s association wouldn’t fix the problem, he said.

That’s when he got a phone call.

“They offered to buy my unit for between $30,000 and $35,000,” he said.

The county values each unit at about $42,320. One theory of pricing, according to some real estate investors, is to value a property at 100 times the monthly rent, which would put the value between $74,000 and $79,000.

Chilton said he couldn’t say how much each unit is worth, although some sold for $40,000 five years ago, he said.

Chilton, Dale and Williams admit that Collins Crossing has made some good improvements, and it’s much more attractive. The company replaced the siding, repaired the roofs of all the buildings and planted trees, bushes and flowers, especially near the entrance and the leasing office. Huge glazed pots hold plants at the entrance next to a new gold-lettered sign.

It looks nice, but some of the homeowners wonder why they should have to pay for improvements they don’t want or need and won’t benefit their tenants, Chilton said.

The complex is managed by Aspen Square Management.

No one at Collins Crossing would speak about the improvements, referring a call asking for information to the corporate office in Massachusetts. No one from that office returned a call Thursday.

Velliquette: bavelliquette@gmail.com

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