PROVINCETOWN — The owners of two units at the Residences at Seashore Point are about to file suit against the company that controls the senior living community and its adjoining skilled nursing facility, alleging that the condominium agreement governing the property is void and was based on fraud.
Plaintiffs Diana Lu and Bertram and Marla Perkel claim that Seashore Point’s condo board is controlled by the Pointe Group Inc. of Norwood via an illegal subterfuge that was originally devised by Deaconess Abundant Life Communities, the previous owner of the property, which took it over from the town 14 years ago.
Bertram Perkel, known as “Buddy,” is a retired New York City lawyer and former chair of the Truro Zoning Board of Appeals. The Perkels moved to Seashore Point two years ago.
The Lu and Perkel complaint alleges that the condo agreement fraudulently defines common areas of the building, such as the lobby, hallways, and closets, as “units,” and endows the owner of those “units” with majority control of the board. But Massachusetts law, they claim, requires that “units” in a condominium be habitable — and virtually all of the “units” owned by the Pointe Group are not.
The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that would remove control of Seashore Point from the Pointe Group and give it to the owners of the 81 apartments there.
In an Oct. 2 letter to the other residents, Buddy Perkel wrote, “After discussions with counsel, I believe that the Residency Agreement itself is unenforceable for any purpose, failing as both a violation of condo law and as a contract….” He asked that other residents help pay the expenses of filing suit in Mass. Land Court.
According to a draft of the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by the Independent, Seashore Point is controlled by a seven-person board. Only two members of that board are elected by the residents. The other five are chosen by the owners of 33 “service units” and the “garage unit.”
Almost all of the so-called service units are closets, corridors, lobbies, and other uninhabitable spaces that would normally be considered common areas, Perkel said. Since all of the service units and the garage unit are owned by the Pointe Group, it is guaranteed control of the board, which awards management contracts and determines fees and assessments.
The complaint alleges that the residency and services agreement at Seashore Point, “which charges an additional fee for the use of service units, is unconscionable and is a method to subsidize Pointe Group, Inc.’s portion of the common expense….”
Chris Hannon, chief operating officer of the Pointe Group, did not respond to a telephone message from the Independent seeking comment this week.
Fire Sale Price
Seashore Point also includes a 42-bed rehabilitation and long-term care facility, the only one of its kind on the Outer Cape. With more than 100 employees, it is one of the largest employers in Provincetown.
The nursing facility was formerly run by the town as Cape End Manor. After years of mounting operating losses, it was taken over in 2006 by Deaconess Abundant Life, a nonprofit based in Concord. Deaconess sold Seashore Point to the Pointe Group, under the name Provincetown Holdco LLC, on Nov. 1, 2019, for $1,519,862. The property is currently assessed by the town at $6,556,400.
The condominium agreement now at issue was originally created by Deaconess when it assumed ownership and oversaw the construction of 43 new residential units in 2008 and an additional 38 units in 2014.
Why was Seashore Point sold last year at such a bargain price — less than one fourth of its assessed value?
“Deaconess had to get rid of it,” Perkel told the Independent. “They were bleeding money. They made a profit by giving it away.” The sale, he said, included a number of vacant apartment units that Pointe Group was able to sell and thus recover more than the $1.5 million it paid for the entire property.
At the time of the sale, Christopher Sintros, the president of Deaconess Abundant Life, said, “We have every confidence that Pointe Group is the right organization to lead the Residences at Seashore Point into the future.”
Sintros did not respond to a request for comment relayed to his assistant this week.
Perkel wrote to the other residents that Pointe Group now “wishes to cut the condo budget in half, reducing our condo fees by 50 percent. That would have the effect of also reducing the Group’s condo expenses by that same percentage. The condo operations, however, cannot be supported under a budget like this and the budget proposal addresses that problem by an off-budget reference to ‘purchased services.’ Past experience suggests that the Group intends that these usual condo expenses will be passed on to the residential owners exclusively.
“I believe that they are again contemplating the use of the Residency Agreement, under which most of us pay the concierge fee, as the vehicle to effect this,” Perkel’s letter continued. “Under this scenario, the ‘concierge’ fee would have to be increased by an amount sufficient to cover the budget gap they created. This could mean that we are all saddled with our proportionate share of approximately $50,800 per month to cover this estimated $610,000 budget gap.”
On Monday, Perkel said that a final version of the complaint was being prepared and that he expected the suit would be filed within about two weeks.