This article was updated on Oct. 26.
PROVINCETOWN — When Robert Compton purchased his condominium at the Residences at Seashore Point four years ago, he imagined an ideal retirement. Seashore Point offers “independent living”; residents attend events together, eat together, and make decisions as a community. Compton, now 74, sold his house on Bayberry Avenue with the expectation that, at Seashore Point, “somebody else is going to cut the grass and water the lawn and make sure that the heat’s working.”
But for the last two years, he’s been locked in a conflict with Pointe Group Care, the for-profit owner of Seashore Point, about what services it provides residents and at what cost. In 2019, the group and its subsidiary, Provincetown Holding Company, purchased the property, along with the attached nursing facility, AdviniaCare at Seashore Point, from the nonprofit Deaconess Abundant Life.
Compton says the free parking residents were promised now costs $275 a month, and condo fees have jumped from $250 to $600 a month. Elderly residents on fixed incomes, he says, did not plan for these higher costs and cannot afford them.
Five residents at Seashore Point filed suit on April 6 in Superior Court, accusing Point Group Care of “unchecked elder abuse, fraud, and manipulation.” Compton is the lead plaintiff; the others are Robert MacDonald, Robert Hanna, Michael Peregon, and Walter Winnowski.
The suit argues that Pointe Group Care manipulated the value of its ownership of units at Seashore Point to fraudulently claim a majority of seats on the condo’s governing board and thus control the board’s decisions.
The suit also alleges that fees at Seashore Point have grown substantially in the last year even as Point Group has cut services. Compton says the fees subsidize the attached nursing home, which lost $1,129,040 in 2020, according to the company’s tax filings. The plaintiffs claim residents are paying 96 percent of the condominium’s $1.4 million budget for 2023 though Pointe Group Care owns roughly 48 percent of the property.
“We have worked very hard to find a resolution to the unit owners’ concerns, with no success to date,” said David Ball, a spokesman for Provincetown Holding Company. “We are confident that the facts and the law are on our side.”
The conflict began when Pointe Group Care purchased Seashore Point in November 2019 from Deaconess Abundant Life, the nonprofit that had owned the property for 14 years. The change from a nonprofit to a for-profit owner, according to court documents, made the condominium contract untenable.
In early 2020, Pointe Group took control of the outdoor parking area, according to Compton. Only 35 spots in the lot are available to residents of the 81 condominium living units, the suit alleges. Without free parking in the lot, residents are compelled to pay for parking at the Pointe Group Care-owned parking garage. As of 2023, according to the suit, the garage charges a one-time “license issuance fee” of $5,000 to use the garage plus $275 per month. The plaintiffs claim that cumulative license and parking fees paid by residents for the garage will total about $175,000 in 2023. Pointe Group Care says it anticipates earning $108,900 from monthly garage fees this year.
The case hinges on Pointe Group Care’s claim that it owns an inflated percentage of the property, according to the suit. Most of Pointe Group’s property consists of “service units,” including the nursing home and the garage. Compton says Point Group Care overestimates the value of the service units, which are worth less per square foot than residential units. That enables Pointe Group to claim a larger stake than it really has, he says.
According to court documents, Pointe Group also calls several spaces “service units” that actually communal space. This practice began with Deaconess Abundant Life, which also referred to these communal spaces incorrectly as condominiums, according to the suit. These spaces “have no rooms or defined physical boundaries,” the plaintiffs charge, yet Point Group devised a fee based on these “fraudulent” service units, thus charging residents to “walk through hallways and lobbies,” the suit says. According to state law, all owners of the condominium are entitled to own common areas and facilities together in proportion to their total ownership.
The Concierge Fee
The final straw for residents was a “concierge fee,” the suit argues, for security services, monitoring of emergency alert systems, social programs, and some transportation, under a residency and services agreement established in 2015. The fee is mandatory for residents, though its value is not listed in the agreement. The plaintiffs say it is currently $631 per month.
Compton says the fee is foisted on unsuspecting new residents. After purchasing a unit, he says, “You’re all excited. You want to move in, and you want to get the key. And that’s when they say, ‘Oh yeah, well, by the way, you have to sign this service agreement. And you can’t have your key or parking space until you sign.’ ”
According to Compton, Deaconess Abundant Life, the previous owner, had supplied the services said to be covered by the concierge fee in the service agreement. But when Pointe Group Care took control, the services began to dwindle. This was partly because of the pandemic, when social distancing made use of common spaces and community programs nearly impossible. Yet Point Group continued to charge residents a “residency and lifestyle” fee each month.
The plaintiffs claim they now pay for all these services themselves. Compton says that support for social programs is lackluster, with residents putting on all social events themselves — for instance, he runs the movie screenings. He says that Pointe Group Care doesn’t offer additional community services “other than once a week they vacuum.”
In July 2021, Pointe Group approached the residents and offered to sell them its service units in the independent living facility for $1.5 million. The residents couldn’t afford that price, Compton says, because “we’re all retirees living on Social Security and IRAs.” After that, Compton and other residents consulted attorneys Edward Allock and Sean Regan of the Braintree firm Allock & Marcus, and Pointe Group “backed off,” Compton says. “Everything was quiet for a year.”
Nearly a year and a half later, in November 2022, Pointe Group Care approached the residents again, this time offering to sell its service units for $700,000. A Nov. 17, 2022 letter from Ben Berkowitz, CEO of Pointe Group Care, obtained by the Independent informed residents that in 2023 the concierge fee would be increased to “make up for the significant losses over the past several years.” Alternatively, Point Group offered to sell 26 service units to residents, claiming “the proposal benefits all parties.” Compton says Berkowitz rejected an offer to negotiate an agreement.
In January 2023, Pointe Group Care raised the concierge fee from $250 per month to $600 per month, says Compton. The services agreement says Point Group can raise condo fees and service fees but not the concierge fee, he says.
“We categorically deny these assertions,” wrote David Ball, the Provincetown Holding Company spokesman. “Fees for some services, which were held steady during the pandemic, have been increased to account for increased operating costs, just as the cost of gas and groceries has increased due to inflation as well. We have adhered to the complex terms of the agreement we made when we purchased this property.”
Most residential unit owners at Seashore Point support the lawsuit, according to Compton. In its response to the suit, Pointe Group Care states that, as of 2023, 24 unit owners are not paying any concierge fees, and 18 are paying the rates from before the increase. In total, 42 owners of the 81 residential units are not paying the new fee, the company says. Compton says that around 53 owners of residential units are contributing financially to the legal fund.
The suit is set to go to trial in August 2026, according to Compton. Ultimately, he says, the residents would like to come to an amicable resolution.
“Nobody wants to go to court,” he says. “Can we just sit down and come up with something reasonable that these retirees can afford?”
Editor’s note: Because of an editing error, part of the response to the lawsuit sent by David Ball to the Independent was omitted from an earlier version of this article, published in print on Oct. 26.