By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Florida foreclosure activists plan to rally Wednesday morning in the state’s capitol, protesting bank repossessions and proposals that want to take the courts out of some foreclosure proceedings.
Two bills floated this session, HB 1523 and SB 2270, would allow for non judicial foreclosures in Florida. Both proposals appear stalled in committee and unlikely to see a full floor vote by either chamber. But opponents fear there is life in them yet, even if it’s next year.
“We believe in the rule of law and the court system in determining these people’s rights,” said Thomas Ice, of Ice Legal P.A. in West Palm Beach. “By shifting to a non judicial foreclosure system, the courts would be left out and the average borrower will have much more difficulty in defending their rights.”
Ice Legal is sponsoring a 60-person bus out of West Palm Beach for the Tallahassee trip. Other buses from around the state are expected to ferry hundreds of foreclosure opponents to the rally.
The non-judicial foreclosure bills were prompted by an estimated backlog of 500,000 foreclosure cases in Florida’s courts following the real estate crash.
Proponents of the bills say non-judicial foreclosures would only be allowed when the borrower and lender agree to them. Also, the borrower would not be liable to pay the remainder of the home loan if he or she agrees to a non-judicial foreclosure.
A property off Village Blvd. and Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. that houses a Bally Total Fitness is facing foreclosure, according to a lawsuit filed last month by a commercial mortgage-backed securities fund.
The defendants in the suit are WPB Village I, LLC and WPB Village II, LLC, which purchased the 3.79-acre at 501 Village Blvd. in 2006 for $8.9 million.
The current total market value is $5.4 million according to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office, but the lawsuit says the defendants owe $6 million on a loan for the property that came due Feb. 18.
The 18-story CityPlace Office Tower has a new tenant with McLaughlin & Stern, LLP, leasing 4,300-square-feet of space in the downtown West Palm Beach building.
The New York-based law firm has an office in the Trump Plaza at 525 South Flagler Drive.
“We intend to increase our Florida presence and capitalize on our strategic alliances,” said Geoffry R. Handler, the firm’s managing partner. “We are confident that our new location will facilitate this, in addition to providing our clients and visitors with convenient access to the CityPlace amenities.”
CityPlace Office Tower is anchored by money management firm, INTECH, which has leased the two top floors. Other major tenants include Cleveland Clinic Florida, the West Palm Beach office of Carlton Fields, P.A., and private investment firm The Comvest Group.
Staff writer Kimberly Miller blogs about real estate at palmbeachpost.com/realestate