Nine Island Avenue owners hear management proposals; no decision til May

Treasurer Jim McLean questions a Continental Group representative.

Tonight at Nine Island Avenue on Belle Isle, three condo management companies are presenting to the condo board, which will vote to determine who will manage the 299-unit building.

We’re covering it live on your BelleIsleBlog.

The companies are the Continental Group, which the board voted to fire last week, KW Property Management, and Miami Management Co.

Here’s what happened at the last meeting.

It’s 7:40 p.m. and the discussion is beginning.

First, Miami Management, was unable to present, board president Jeff Stokols announced at the beginning of the meeting, so a decision on the new management company will not be made tonight.

Instead, KW and Continental will present and Miami Management will be given an opportunity to present at a later time, and decision on the new management company will be made at the board’s May meeting.

Board member Blanka Rosenstiel made an appeal for condo residents to give the new board a chance to do its job, and not assume the worst before the board has a chance to get started.

Board member Boris Klopukh said he was relieved the board wasn’t going to make a final decision on Wednesday. He argued for a more methodical process, and felt that wasn’t what happened last week.

Klopukh said he felt things were being done behind his back. He supports the idea of a new management company, but wants an open process where companies are evaluated by a committee. He said he learned that there was a contract already submitted by KW Management, which had been submitted by lawyer David Rogel, the lawyer for the association.

Jeff Stokols said he had tried to include Klopukh in his work investigating the background of different companies, and due diligence is being done in the selection process. He said the association would hear from another management company, and the board can serve as a the review committee.

Board member Mora Israel said she felt they were too quick to act at the last meeting, and need to be more deliberative about a chance in management companies. She said she hoped Klopukh would participate in that process.

Klopukh said he didn’t feel he had the expertise or the time to participate in that process.

“We are not idiots here,” Israel said, arguing that board members can make the decision on the management company.

At 8:10 p.m., the Continental Group representatives began their presentation. Steve Titleman, the Miami area representative, made its case to continue managing the building. They started their presentation with a video about the company that touted its employees, the scale of the company (nearly 1 million homes in 18 cities) and included testimonials from people in several properties they oversee.

Titleman said Continental has been working with Nine Island for 12 years, “through many boards.” And they could have communicated better. “Often, the populace doesn’t know all the details. Our company over the last year has recognized that we haven’t always done the best job of communicating.”

Continental is in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and has been doing property management for 20 years, Titleman said. He said the scale of the company enables it to negotiate low rates from vendors and keep costs down for associations.

They have a new package tracking service, a resident alert system, online reporting of financial information. They will provide continuity of service.

After 12 years with Nine Island, “I would love for this relationship to continue. You want a change of direction, we can change direction….I promise you that,” Titleman said.

“You are buying an insurance policy when you hire the Continental Group,” he said. “When we make a mistake, we stand behind it.”

He said Continental would provide the new board a new business plan.

They talked about how they could bring down energy costs and improve efficiency in the building. He said they will assign a new property manager and bring the changes people want.

Klopukh said he was disappointed that Continental hadn’t brought any of these suggestion forward to improve the building — until the company was on notice that their contract was at risk. He said Continental does have an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Unit owner Robin Landers asked why many of these things hadn’t been done already. Titleman said it’s true, too many things haven’t been implemented already, but they would evaluate and improve it.

Stokols asked what would happen if Nine Island chose another management company and wanted to hire some of the Continental employees. Titleman said they would expect some compensation for employees that had been trained by Continental.

At 9:05 p.m., KW Management began its presentation. Paul Kaplan, one of the principals of the company, said KW has five offices statewide. All four principals are CPAs. They manage 120 buildings; 70 percent of them are in South Florida.

Older buildings include the Flamingo, Maison Grande, Decoplage. Newer buildings include Quantum on the Bay, 900 Biscayne, the Marquis.

One of the owners, Trycia Arecibia, said she oversees the back office for KW, and described how the company runs building finances.

They said Nine Island could use some extra care. He said changing management companies can be “a little bit of a bumpy road.” They address staff, structural issues, and how the overall building is managed.

Our management comes in, evaluates, works with your financials.

Kaplan said their customer service makes a difference. Upper management will be on the property regularly, because they are somewhat smaller.

One unit owner asked what KW would do if owners want to retain employees after a management change. Kaplan said they usually keep the employees they can, but Continental employees will be difficult to keep,because they have to be bought out.

Another homeowner asked about their property management experience, because of the needs of Nine Island. Kaplan said they have 85 licensed property managers statewide, all with a special license. He said they have 10-30 years experience.

Klopukh asked what KW offers that would help bring Nine Island back to standard and bring a strong manager on board.

Kaplan said KW will recommend two to three manager candidates and the board will chose Nine Island’s manager. He said 80 percent of what you get depends on who is in the building managing it day-to-day.

Resident Raz Samuels asked what building would be most comparable to Nine Island. Kaplan said he would compare it 1000 Williams Island and Palm Bay Yacht Club and he encouraged unit owners to talk to people who live there about KW’s performance.

He acknowledged that Quayside, which was managed by KW, decided to terminate them this year. He said there had been a change in the board there, and they had decided to try and self-manage their building.

Kaplan said they have 120 buildings, and 10-15 percent are developer controlled properties, but most are not. He said they have overseen managing major construction projects. Charter Club, he said is undergoing a $3.5-million construction project. He said the Palm Bay Yacht Club underwent a major pool renovation project.

Several owners wanted to know about keeping Continental employees. Kaplan said because those employees need to be bought out at 30 percent of their annual salaries, it often is not cost effective to retain employees.

Klopukh asked KW to submit proposals in writing that show what actual costs will be for employees, management fees and what they recommend on staffing for the building so it can be compared.

Stokols said the board would request that information.

Kaplan encouraged the board to be deliberative.

2 responses to “Nine Island Avenue owners hear management proposals; no decision til May

  1. Pingback: Calmed Nine Island owners hear competing management proposals « Belle Isle Blog

  2. Pingback: Nine Island residents can watch management presentations « Belle Isle Blog

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