PALM BEACH — Billionaire Jeff Greene, if you believe some owners at a 100-apartment building on Palm Beach’s cheaper south side, has been behaving like a “third world dictator” since he bought a majority of the building’s condos.
Greene, said one owner, is ignoring decisions by the condo association at 2560 South Ocean Boulevard and, five years after he acquired 71 apartments for $12.7 million from the bankrupt original developer, Greene is being accused of bullying the board and running the building on the cheap.
“As the president, and with a board that also includes some of his employees, he is responsible for maintaining the building in a proper shape,” said one woman who has owned a condo in the building for five years. “He is not doing that, but there isn’t much the minority owners can do, except selling. To him, of course.”
Some of the minority owners came to Gossip Extra, they said, with a cautionary tale.
While Greene is reshaping the skyline of downtown West Palm Beach, condo owners in Palm Beach’s 2560 South Ocean say city dwellers should heed their warning about Greene.
“He is promising all kinds of stuff to West Palm Beach,” the source said, “but take it from someone who owns a condo in a Jeff Greene building: Not all that glitters is gold. For us, it’s not been that great.”
Take the strange allegations of conflicts of interest that stem from Greene’s loans to the condo owners association.
Greene, 62, who is listed on incorporation papers as president of the 2560 South Ocean Boulevard Condominium Association, has made at least three loans to the building’s association for a total of $1 million.
Of course, he is getting interests on the loans.
But if the association were to default, according to a copy of the loan documents obtained by Gossip Extra, Greene could conceivably foreclose on the loans, and dismantle the association.
Ultimately, Greene could attempt to lead the board into foreclosing on some of the remaining 29 independent owners.
“As the majority owner, I treat the building as if it were my own,” Greene told Gossip Extra. “When we needed to rebuild every single balcony practically from scratch, I put up my own money.
“I had no idea how much work would be involved in this building. But after extensive work, the building has never looked better. It’s Palm Beach’s only affordable luxury rental building. As of today, it has only two vacant units.”
The minority owners’ camp points out scores of other problems have popped up over the past couple years.
To start with, Greene is renting out some of his units for less than $2,000 a month and for a period of time that can be as short as a month.
That has brought a crop of unsavory characters onto the Palm Beach property, one minority owner says.
Those include convicted felon and reputed mob associate Leonard Mercer, who’s renting apartment #311, a Greene unit on the third floor.
In the 1980s, the infamous Mercer, now 83, was sentenced to four years in a federal penitentiary for mortgage fraud.
“Jeff promised the board he’s do background checks on his tenants, but somehow, Mercer slipped in,” the owner said.
When we brought Mercer’s presence in the building, Greene said he didn’t know about any particular felon living in his building. But he added that, sometimes, convicted felon need a condo.
“(Securities trader) Michael Milken‘s also a convicted felon, but he is a friend of mine and good guy,” Greene said.
While building bylaws say only owners, not tenants, can have pets, Gossip Extra has found tenants moving in with animals. One afternoon, we noticed two standard poodles on a tenant’s balcony.
The building now hosts many pets, some of which have been caught peeing and pooping in the elevators. One tenant recently showed up with a 100-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback who’s been aggressive, but Greene hasn’t taken any action.
There have been tiny animals, too.
Last fall, the carpets in building’s lobby and hallways became infested with fleas. The building had to be treated several times to get rid of the pests.
“Can you imagine,” said our source, “fleas in a Palm Beach condo building?”
Aesthetically, meanwhile, the building doesn’t look like it belongs in Palm Beach – and not just because tenants don’t think anything about putting large items on the balcony against building policy.
Greene tried to get the board to approve a rental office in the lobby. The minority owners voted overwhelmingly against it, but Greene is still building the office in the lobby anyway.
The same board approved the purchase of new front doors for the lobby as well as what some board members thought would be fancy furniture for the lobby and new cabanas, couches and chaise-lounges for the pool.
As of today, the new doors are nowhere to be found. The lobby furniture look like it was bought at Rooms To Go, And the pool received what looks poolside chairs from Greene’s nearby hotel, The Tideline Ocean Resort.
The fancy cabanas?
Nowhere to be found.
The board also voted to redo the landscaping.
Landscapers spent about a day on the property and managed to remove shrubs and sea grapes by the pool that gave sunbathers some privacy.
Against condo owners’ rules, two of Greene’s units were rented to a group from Miami whose members partied well into the night during the Fourth of July vacation. The group “trashed” the beach, according to one owner, with garbage, empty bottles and wrappers.
In real estate websites, the billionaire advertises the available apartments as “luxury” condos and highlights “Intracoastal living.”
But while a dusty Rolls Royce sat in the covered parking one recent afternoon, the gym smelled so badly of rank sweat and old rags that a resident who worked out was reduced to keeping the door open despite the 90-degree heat outside.
In some staircases, large streaks of dirt covered the walls. The lobby furniture made it look like a Bahamas hotel’s circa 1970 and cockroaches scurried around in the utilities room.
So, why are the minority owners taking it out on Greene?
He is the president of the board, and he has enough votes to do as he pleases.
Despite the fact he is a busy guy with extensive land holdings all over the area, he calls into the condo owners’ meetings.
Minority residents say they believe he does that to intimidate them.
“Ultimately, he wants the whole building,” the long-time owner said. “It’s a matter of time until long-time residents start selling.”
Greene denies that.
“I’ve got 71 condos in there, I don’t really need more,” he says. “If someone comes to me with a good deal on a unit, I might be interested. But I’m not making any money on this building. It has cost me more than I thought it would. I don’t know what these owners you’re talking to are so mad about.
“Besides, I don’t run the building. A management company does.”