A lot of people buy condominiums because they never want to have to mow a lawn or shovel snow again. But eight owners of University Park Lofts in Worcester, Massachusetts, had no choice after the developer at the mostly-vacant 37-unit community ran into financial problems and stopped servicing the property. For more than two years, they became default handymen and landscapers in an effort to maintain their investment in the converted factory. The original developer eventually went bankrupt.
They also took to the web. Their blog details years’ worth of owner frustrations and efforts to find solutions – from banding together to buy a shop vac to clean up the underground garage that floods in the spring to weed-picking parties. Neil Foisy, one of the blog's authors and a current trustee, got tired of waiting for graffiti to be painted over, so he grabbed a brush and paint himself.
New Englanders have a long history of coming together for the good of the neighborhood, but unlike famous 19th century utopian communities, the Lofts’ residents weren’t seeking a transcendental life. They had to go communal to deal with the fallout from living in a building owned by a bankrupt developer.
Now – after three years and one foreclosure auction – the trustees of University Park Lofts, who include two out of the three authors of the blog, are taking a decidedly un-transcendental approach: They’ve filed a lawsuit against the bank that foreclosed on the developer, HE&PG Realty. (The third blogger, Crystal Anson, moved out of University Park Lofts in October, writing that she believes stress and the energy drain of the drama surrounding the condominium contributed to the end of her relationship with Foisy.)
While the litigation is still pending, the trustees are unable to comment on life at the Lofts. But “we definitely have quite the story to tell,” Foisy said, via telephone.