HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hundreds of Hillsborough County retirees who live in University Village continuing care retirement community are waiting and wondering. What will happen to the place they call home? Will University Village be sold to an owner that will renovate and restore? Will it end up in the hands of those who will cannibalize its assets? And what about the 360 retirees who live there?
All of these questions are being asked. All of them deserve answers.
After years of legal wrangling, these questions may be answered in bankruptcy court next week.
The people living in University Village have been in limbo for years.
“I love this place, this is the best place I could possibly live,” said Glenda Hubbard.
“I loved it, I loved our apartment,” added Kay Bates.
Ms. Bates moved out of University Village after eleven and a half years because of the ownership group.
“You couldn’t trust any of them,” she said. Ms. Bates was on the community’s finance committee. She claims you could not get a straight answer about the numbers from the owners, Westport Holdings of Tampa.
Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation contends the group, headed by Eli Freiden, illegally took control of University Village.
Since then refunds to former clients like Thomas Allensworth and other bills have gone unpaid for years as buildings deteriorated and the roof started leaking.
“In fact, I don’t think there were any ceiling tiles on C wing they were all gone,” stated Ms. Bates.
Plumbing problems also added to the woes. At one point trash cans and buckets lined the floor to collect water.
Employees started protesting working conditions and pay, and Westport filed for protection under bankruptcy laws.
Two companies are now bidding for University Village. Financial advisors to the tenants are concerned that neither of the two bidders have sufficient money. There is concern about what happens to people living here.
Resident Glenda Hubbard loves the place, but not the owners.
“They really didn’t do what they were supposed to do in terms of keeping this place up and the sooner we get rid of them the better,” she said.
On Tuesday, a bankruptcy judge will listen to revised bids. He could accept one from the two bidders, reject them both or declare Chapter 7 and order the assets sold off.
That’s why 360 residents remain in limbo.
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