HITCHCOCK

The owner of Harborwalk, a luxury waterfront community, shut down the neighborhood’s marina, swimming pool and other amenities last week, following through on his promise in September to close access to the facilities if a local municipal utility district didn’t dredge the harbor.

Residents of the Hitchcock neighborhood, where there are 170 homes, found themselves on Friday without access to the Harborwalk boat launch, marina, restaurant and swimming pool after Paul Leviner, who owns the commercial properties, turned the power off and barricaded the entrances to the properties with sawhorses, locks, chains and ‘Keep Out’ signs.

Leviner, who purchased the properties last May, said that the Flamingo Isles Municipal Utility District has refused to dredge the harbor for months, citing money problems within the district. In the meantime, a significant number of boats can’t dock, and Leviner said he’s losing money keeping the marina and other facilities open.

“I’ve got a stack of 20 letters from people who bring their vessels in and say they get stuck in the harbor,” he said. “Until all of their financial issues get resolved, they’re not going to dredge, but the harbor is the entire livelihood of Harborwalk. I’ve been losing more than $75,000 a month since May.”

Letters that Leviner provided to The Daily News show several boat owners writing to him about their boats getting stuck in the water near the marina and complaining about damage.

The Flamingo Isles Municipal Utility District, which includes Harborwalk, governs the maintenance of the development’s bulkheads and dredging of the canals and channels to the Intracoastal Waterway, according to the district’s website.

“I have a 55-foot sailboat that has run aground in the channel coming into Harborwalk,” wrote Chester Palmer on August 14. “I lived here in years past and had no problems, but as time goes by the channel has silted in and now I’m worried about getting out, much less just enjoying a weekend sail. Hope they get it done soon.”

Jane McKenzie, president of the Flamingo Isles Municipal Utility District, declined to answer questions about dredging or the district’s role in the shutdown, claiming she doesn’t have authority to speak on behalf of the board.

“Just come to our next meeting on Nov. 2,” she said.

As a Harborwalk homeowner, however, McKenzie was glad to provide her opinion on what the shutdown of the neighborhood’s amenities meant for the community.

“Paul has blocked off all the commercial property and it’s causing a lot of confusion,” she said. “We’re trying to work with him but he’s making things difficult. I wish he could just be happy.”

Leviner’s acquisition of the commercial properties included the restaurant building formerly occupied by Floyd’s on the Water, all marina slips and expansion rights, The Ship Store and Welcome Center. Homes in the development weren’t included in the acquisition.

Harborwalk LP originally developed the 625-acre community of waterfront homes. In January 2010, Harborwalk LP filed a lawsuit against Compass Bank, which later was bought by BBVA, after the bank sent a notice of default on an amended $30 million note and refused to allow the company to draw any more money to cover project costs.

Harborwalk LP officials at the time said they had not defaulted on any provision of the loan agreement and had made timely payments. But Compass Bank blamed declining value of property used as collateral for its decision to call the note.

In 2012, Legend Communities, a developer of single- and multifamily residential and associated commercial projects, bought Harborwalk from BBVA Compass bank.

Legend Communities in September 2017 warded off a foreclosure sale of many parcels and properties in Harborwalk. Leviner purchased the Harborwalk commercial properties in May of this year.

Aaron West: 409-683-5246; aaron.west@galvnews.com

Reporter

(6) comments

Chris McMurray

As a boater i can tell you it’s not safe to go into Harborwalk

Blanca Bell

Having been in and out of Harborwalk a hundred times I don't understand the purpose of shutting down the pool and boat launch. At the entrance of the canal I understand that it gets to about 5' feet deep or less on a normal tide but this does not effect the recreational boater. Please fix this and get a restaurant to replace Floyd's.

Angela Leviner

The MUD directors placed NO MOORING for boaters to tie up with penalties if they do. Many boats motors and props damaged due to shallow MUD launch. Director McKenzie claimed the pool had dangerous mold and shouted everyone would be at risk. The issues are being investigated after thousands were paid to repair. The restaurant is almost completely remodeled but work stopped when MUD directors said the advertised channel dept would not happen till 2021 if then. Being one of the largest investors in Harborwalk I am very displeased with the MUD directors decisions. Perhaps the election on November 6 will bring new life. Paul Leviner

Linda Huoni

I think it us horrible to have made such an investment building a house in the assumption that the neighborhood amenities would always be there. So sad. People in your area need to VOTE November 2nd. Get someone in the position who can get things done in a timely manor.

Jon Babara

Full service Restaurant will never work there. Not enough traffic ever. Seasonal biz. I never take my boat in there not deep enough!

Paul Steele

Rich people get a grip, there more important issues to worry about than your boats, pool and fancy restaurants. 🤑😋

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