Indian Creek, Siesta Bay Residents Are Fed Up

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Over 2,000 residents in the RV and Mobile Home communities of Indian Creek and Siesta Bay are still not in their homes, 14 months after Hurricane Ian severely damaged both communities, which are located just off Fort Myers Beach near Wal-Mart. They are demanding answers.

The communities are both owned by Sun Communities, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, based out of Michigan, that invests in manufactured home communities, RV communities and marinas.

Since Hurricane Ian pushed them out of their homes, residents in both communities have voiced their frustration with the communication they’ve received from Sun. For the first several months after the storm, residents had no idea if they would ever be allowed back onto the property to begin putting their lives back together.

Executives from the Sun Communities corporate office recently held a town-hall style meeting at a pavilion at the Indian Creek community. Hundreds of residents attended ready to hear what the plan was to get them back into their homes and why it was taking so long for a successful publicly traded company to make the needed repairs to their properties.

Sun COO Bruce Thelan told the crowd the situation is fluid and changing. He asked for patience and said, “Everyone here cares about you and these properties.” He told them there were issues with FPL and getting the water turned on without finding more breaks. He said power will be turned back on in sections starting next year. He also blamed some of the delays on Lee County. “Permitting in Lee County takes 2-3 times longer than expected.”
When Thelan put part of the blame on FPL, a resident in the crowd yelled back at him, “FPL says they are waiting on you guys.”

When a Sun executive told the crowd the water was up and running at Siesta Bay, a resident from that community yelled back, “it is not working.” That caused the deer-in-the-headlight look from the Sun executive who responded, “We’ll check on that. The water should be working.”

Following the meeting, Sun sent out an email promising the residents more frequent updates on when their communities will open. The email again placed blame with FPL.

We spoke to several residents who attended the meeting to get their reaction on what they heard. Here’s what they had to say…

Scott Werner told us the meeting sounded positive, but Sun’s track record isn’t good. “They promised they would have a time table showing which transformers would be activated in 5 days. It’s now 7 days and no communication from Sun. It’s been 15 months and Sun is more concerned about aesthetics of the community (like fixing up a new entrance) instead of getting water, sewer and electricity (infrastructure) put in, so the residents can start or continue their repairs on their homes.”

Virginia Stirnweis said, “This meeting was our first in person all hands meeting with Sun Communities since the hurricane. Sun has been vague and not forthcoming with critical details surrounding the infrastructure of the park.  I don’t believe we are asking for too much when we request honest, transparent communication. After all, we are making decisions that impact our lives, does Sun Communities even realize that, or is that asking too much?”

Sonia and Gary Lorenz said, “We were glad that we had the meeting with Sun. What we took away from the meeting was a lot of confusion in communication between Sun and the people they contracted to do the work in the park. There were no real solutions to anything we asked and this has been going on for 14 months. We should have power and water by now so we can continue our rebuild to be able to move into our homes. We are all paying a lot of $$ in rent.  Communication and honesty is the key and I’m sure everyone feels the same way. We need to be back in our homes ASAP.  Sun has promised a lot that they are not delivering.  We understand the issues but we need solutions.”

Dave Hicks told us he was both disappointed and optimistic about the meeting. “I believe that the Sun officials believe they were doing what was right. I believe however that they were not getting the full story from their local employees. It is difficult to analyze what is going on if you are not here. I believe they got a full idea as to the passion we all have. I am a full-time resident. We bought our home August 1st, before Ian. We’re now in an apartment in the Cape costing me $2500 a month. To extend my lease month-to-month will be another $1000.”

Jeff Lowery said Sun did not provide residents with enough information. “It’s still a runaround about how we’re going to get the power resolved. The timeline continues to be a moving target with no real deadlines. I have to believe that the company has an 18-month insurance policy that is paying 100% of the loss in lot fees. If this is the case, if they allowed us to move back in before the 18-month policy ended they would not receive any additional funds. There are roughly 40% of the homes left in the parks. This would be a huge loss of income if the policy wasn’t paying out. My belief is that this is the reason why they are dragging their feet in getting the power turned back on. Homeowners are at their mercy and most have moved on with the chances of mold if you do rebuild without power most haven’t started the interior rebuild yet.”

15 COMMENTS

  1. Sun communities is a joke! Look at their reviews in Michigan. What they are doing to the people in their communities in Florida is the BS that they have & still do in Michigan. I think a class action lawsuit sounds like a great idea for you all to get started on.

    Good luck & hopefully they will do what they are supposed to do.

  2. I have a home in Osprey Bay as well. I was told the permits were extremely behind. Now the permits are finally available and my home is set but they can’t get FPL to come back and finish the electrical part. They dipped when that hurricane hit Cedar Key and they have not returned. No clue how to put pressure on FPL to return and not sure when all of us will be in our homes

  3. Could residents band together and refuse to pay lot rent until some definitive infrastructure dates are in place?
    How frustrating this must be. I feel for you all

  4. Sun Communities…with Indian Creek RV Resprt being the great offender; had allowed us to begin to rebuild our home, only to come out several months later and say “nevermind” and turn your home over to us as you are being evicted. It’s been depressing, disheartening and a real “kick a man when he’s down” experience. Indian Creek and Sun Communities have displayed a complete lack of engagement or care for most if us. Their actions in evicting us after we are more than $10,000 into our rebuild have been despicable.

  5. Zip code 33931 is being taken over by profit driven big corporate interests. The results will be disastrous for permanent residents.

  6. So glad to see this being covered. We were owners in Indian Creek whose insurance paid us basically nothing. As seniors back in Michigan we didn’t have the ability to wait a year (years?) to find out what will happen with our home so we moved on. Sorry to have left Indian Creek and wish all the owners well!

  7. Doesn’t give Michigan a great recommendation. Sad my state would allow a business like this to exist. If it’s the same one, they have been buying up rv parks in our state at a rapid rate.

  8. I am very interested in what CEO Bruce Thelan said about the local management of Sun Community (Siesta Bay and Indian Creek) telling people that they were able to rebuild their homes. These people went out and got the necessary permits, put their hard-earned money into rebuilding only to have an eviction notice placed on their door. These residents have been through enough. Not only losing their homes to Hurricane Ian, but then 6 months to a year later, losing their homes again because of Sun Homes. No “good faith” experience with this company.

  9. Great article, thank you! However, is there any chance Beach Talk Radio could reach out to Lee County and FPL to get honest information on what the hold-ups are and who needs to do what? Thank you!

    • Excellent suggestion!! We need ans..it’s been way to long being in limbo about having a home..a roof over our heads & having a permanent address again

    • I had a home in Tropicana Mobile Home Park (nka Osprey Bay) and have placed a down payment on a new home. I am getting the same information as these residents blaming FPL.

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