Blog: Parkland developments move past Chinese drywall

Jan 17, 2012

The following article was published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on January 17, 2012:

Parkland developments move past Chinese drywall

By Paul Owers

Three years after reports of tainted Chinese drywall first surfaced, Parkland’s two main gated communities are slowly recovering.

In early 2009, homeowners at Heron Bay and Parkland Golf & Country Club found out they had the imported wallboard, which gives off a sulfurous “rotten egg” odor, tarnishes metals and ruins appliances and electronics by corroding pipes and wires. Some of the owners insisted the drywall caused health problems, though the government never established a link.

As homebuyers looked elsewhere, panicked residents worried the drywall stigma would depress property values and hurt the upscale communities for years to come.

Ultimately, though, only a little more than 100 of the estimated 4,000 homes in the two developments had the drywall. Many of those were sold to investors, who fixed the properties, while one of the largest manufacturers of the drywall is settling claims and paying for repairs.

And home values in the communities didn’t plummet as feared.

“The Chinese drywall has definitely been dealt with,” said Beverly Rothstein, a real estate agent who sells in the area.

Toll Brothers, which bought Parkland Golf & Country Club in late 2010 from WCI Communities Inc., says it has fixed and sold 25 Chinese drywall homes that were included in the $53 million purchase.

Meanwhile, a golf clubhouse is scheduled to be ready in late spring, and three model homes are due to open next week. In addition, Toll says it has switched the country club to a non-equity membership and refunded money to members.

At Heron Bay, WCI says it has sold 65 of 196 homes, with construction starting on 35. December usually is a slow month for home sales, but it turned out to be the second-busiest since WCI launched sales there in May, according to Doug Schwartz, senior vice president at WCI.

Heron Bay resident John Willis sold his home after discovering it had the wallboard, but he still rents in the development.

He said those with the wallboard who lost their homes through foreclosures and short sales never will be made whole. Still, Willis agrees that Heron Bay and Parkland Golf & Country Club have largely put the Chinese drywall furor behind them and will continue to be “strong, hot places to live.”

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