Channelside condo owners bullied into selling

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 01:21:16-04

Bullied and forced to sell? That's what some condominium owners say is happening to them in Channelside.

Gene McDonald thought he found the perfect home to retire in -- a one-bedroom condo, high above Channelside with a view and pool.

But just a couple years in, he's now moving out, afraid he'll eventually be forced out.

"I don't need these hassles. I'm retired. I'm on a fixed income. I don't want to spend any more money than I have to," he said.

McDonald said he's one of dozens of owners being bullied into selling to Cardinal Point Management that scooped up more than 200 units at The Slade late last year.

The plan, it appears: Turn the condos into apartments if they can manage to buy out the entire building.

But McDonald estimates about 50 owners won't sell because they don't want to move or the offers are too low.

"It's a nice location. It's an up and coming neighborhood, it was just great to move to Channelside," he said.

Here's the kicker.

Under Florida law, if this company manages to buy out at least 90-percent of the building, the remaining owners have no choice: They will be forced to sell their units at a price that they'll probably lose money on.

"Effectively what they're facing is being forced to sell their home at a below market price," said Shawn Brown, a Tampa-based attorney.

Brown believes it's a real estate lesson all condo owners should learn.

Right when you think you have retired in this beautiful home with an amazing view -- and in this case in up-and-coming Channelside -- you could be forced to sell at any moment.

"Unfortunately, those people who are living there and have decided to heed Mayor Buckhorn's call to move downtown are going to be told to vacate," Brown said.

ABC Action News reached out to the investment team that is working on buying the rest of the building, but we have not heard back.

McDonald said he plans to move to a new condo next week and rent his out until the dust settles.

"I had no intention of doing any of this," he said.