So we got our first notice that Summer Isle had been sold to Paramount Companies of Florida yesterday - the letter spoke of plans to plant trees and power-wash the sideboards, but no mention was made of the real reason behind the beautification project: Summer Isle is going condo. The bastards don't seem to see fit to tell the residents of their plans just yet - I'm sure they'll announce it when it's convenient for them. Meanwhile, the residents of Summer Isle just get screwed that much more.
I know there is very little chance anything can be done to stop this, because they are within their rights to sell their property. However, I refuse to roll over and give up my home because some faceless company in Florida tells me I have to buy it or leave. I will fight it, and I will encourage my neighbors to fight it. To that end, I'm creating a blog that the residents can go to for information, any updates on the situation, and let them know how they can contact this company to voice their displeasure, writing letters to the editor at the Packet, and contacting Packet business reporter Peter Hull, who has been covering rash of apartment complexes going condo in Bluffton and Hilton Head. He has told me that if he can get residents to go on the record (obviously I can't as a employee of the Packet....even though I have nothing to do with the Editorial side of things, I guess everyone still has to cover their butts), he will write about this....this display of Capitalism at it's absolute worst.
For my first (but certainly not last) act of resistance, I have mailed this letter to the big shot who gave us that notice yesterday. I will take the "get more bees with honey" approach at first, just in case I happen to be speaking to an actual human being that gives a crap about people she's never met. I doubt very much that it will work, but it's worth a shot before taking the next step.....
Regional Vice President
Paramount Companies of Florida
6351 Sunset Drive
Miami, FL 33143
April 20th, 2006
Dear Ms. Smith,
My name is Morgan Bonner - I live in the Summer Isle apartment complex in Bluffton, SC. We received your letter yesterday informing residents that you have taken ownership of Summer Isle and will be re-modeling the complex. As this is obviously the first step towards the conversion of Summer Isle from apartments to condos, I would like to take this opportunity to voice my opinion to you about your company's plan that will displace dozens of low-income families who can't afford or will not want to purchase their apartment.
For the past year, we have watched first as your company took over Ashley Plantation and then as the Westbury Park apartments were sold to the Jacksonville, Florida based Montecito Property Co. I welcomed many new neighbors as people from those communities flocked to Summer Isle because it was one of the last places for low-income families to be able to rent an apartment in Bluffton. We stood by and wondered exactly why your company and others like it found it acceptable (albeit legal) to essentially kick people out of their homes and sell their apartments to people with more money. We wondered when it would be our turn....and so the day has come.
I understand that it is your business to do this - that this is how you make your money. Therefore, I will not bore you with the unpleasant details of how the cost of living in this city has risen astronomically while wages have remained stagnant. How because of your actions and companies like yours, finding a place to rent is becoming next to impossible now that owners charge several hundred dollars more for rent every month. Or how by forcing Summer Isle residents to buy or get out, you are robbing Bluffton of many hard working, decent people who will have to leave the area (myself included) because they can't afford to live here anymore.
What I will ask however, is that you reconsider your decision to convert Summer Isle into condos. Raise the rents (slightly) if you must, but please, I implore you: do not displace so many men, women and children. Do not add stress and hardship to people who barely make it through the day as it is. We do not want to buy property - that's why we rent. Our reasons for doing so are no more or less valid than those who have more money than us and would want to purchase our home - but no matter whose name is on the deed, it is OUR home. Please do not take it away from us.
50 Pebble Beach Cove
Bluffton, SC 29910