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Builder of collapsed Surfside condo was a partner in project that went bust

Ron Hurtibise, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

Real estate transaction stories in the Miami Herald reported purchases by Reiber and his partners of at least three apartment complexes on North Kendall Drive between 1973 and 1974. But recession hit the country in 1974 and the apartment market collapsed, a Herald story reported.

The partners sold one of the apartment complexes in 1977 for less than its 1973 purchase price, while another was sold at pubic auction to satisfy debts, the paper reported.

Reiber retired from Ontario, Canada, to Miami Beach in the late 1970s, according to a 2014 obituary, and began investing in properties there. He announced the first of the three Champlain Towers projects, again with Canadian partners, in 1980. The first two towers, Champlain Towers South and Champlain Towers North, were completed by 1982.

A third tower, Champlain Towers East, wouldn’t be completed until 1994 as the partners were slowed by yet another recession and became embroiled in lawsuits with contractors and battles with the city of Surfside over the project’s scope and distance from the shoreline. It was his third and final building, according to a recent Miami Herald story.

Reiber family invests in condo conversions

State corporate records list Reiber and his daughter, Jill Meland, as managing members of two companies, Everglades East Associates LLC and Everglades South Associates LLC, along with Robert J. Wolfarth and his son, Robert J. Wolfarth II.

 

Official records of Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties show no transactions by either company.

But the Wolfarths had by then built a reputation as “condo converters” — businessmen who purchased apartment complexes, allowed leases to expire, and then converted the complexes into condominiums.

A 2001 Miami Herald story reported complaints by more than a dozen residents of a former Miami Beach apartment house that the Wolfarths had converted the year before. The residents said the Wolfarths told them they wouldn’t get their security deposits back because they damaged their apartments — which the residents denied.

None of the Reiber family members show up again with the Wolfarths in any other company registered in the state’s Division of Corporation database.

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