MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A resident living in a building near the Miami Gardens condominium that caught fire Saturday morning, displacing dozens of residents, says he fears his building could meet the same fate.
That’s because he said his condominium complex, the New World Condominiums III, has the same property manager as the nearby Northwest 177th Street condo building that went up in flames over the weekend.
In an interview with Local 10 News, John Baptiste pointed out numerous issues with the New World building.
“We have a piece of PVC pipe put up by the maintenance man to support a roof that’s been hanging for more than a year,” Baptiste said.
Examples included fences barely being held in place by wood planks and a rotting second-floor railing.
“The level of incompetence is just too great,” Baptiste said.
But he said the thought of a fire particularly troubles him, because the automatic dialer for the building’s fire alarm system hasn’t been paid since 2019.
“Are you fearful that the same thing can happen in your building?” Local 10 News reporter Hatzel Vela asked Baptiste.
“Absolutely,” he replied.
He believes Saturday’s massive fire a few buildings down, which has left many without their homes and life investments, will blow off the lid on years of mismanagement.
He said his property, as well as the other New World buildings are managed by Prestige Group, which, according to state records, is associated with Denise Brooks.
That’s the same woman residents said told survivors from the fire, during a heated meeting on Monday, that the building’s insurance had lapsed.
“Our water just got shut off,” Baptiste said. “Now we found out we have a $100,000 bill that they haven’t been paying the water bill and no one knew about it until the water got shut off.”
Baptiste said residents are paying their bills and questioned why nothing was getting done.
“People are paying the maintenance, people are paying the special assessment, so why do you never have the money to pay the bills?” he asked.
Baptiste said New World residents have been told of a new $500,000 assessment, $300,000 of which would go just towards the 40-year recertification.
“My personal feeling is that between the board of directors and the manager, the money is disappearing,” he said.
Another building managed by Brooks caught fire in 2017. A three-alarm fire gutted the Star Lakes condominium building back in December of that year.
State records show Brooks was also the registered agent for that homeowners’ association.
Local 10 News tried calling, emailing Brooks and going to her office in order to seek comment Tuesday, but has received no response.