Homeowner: We are victims of hostile takeover by GCUPosted: Updated:
Plans to expand Grand Canyon University have taken a detour through a Phoenix neighborhood where residents have been told to pack up and move out.
A Valley company called SHU LLC has bought more than 160 of the Quatros subdivision's 204 units.
SHU LLC now plans to buy up the rest then sell the entire property to GCU as part of the university's expansion project.
But what about the 30-plus families still living there?
Brian Wiggins' family owns one of the condos.
He said that SHU is giving homeowners a set price to buy each unit - between $49,000 and $53,000.
It's an offer Wiggins claims is well below market value.
"I describe it as a hostile takeover," said Wiggins. "These are people that are low income, elderly, disabled; they don't have the wherewithal to seek legal help."
The Arizona Condominium Act allows businesses like SHU to force remaining unit owners to sell if the company owns at least 80 percent of the condos.
SHU attorney Scott Carpenter said his client is following Arizona law.
Carpenter said the prices for the condos were set by an independent appraiser, and his client is doing everything to help renters who need assistance.
"SHU will work with anybody that says, 'Hey, I'm stuck in this situation,'" said Carpenter. "SHU has promised they can stay rent-free through April 1 in some cases. Whoever is out there that feels like they are being pinched by this needs to contact SHU."
Wiggins said the HOA chose the appraiser, and the HOA can also decide whether the appraised value of the condos should be disputed.
The HOA is controlled by SHU, leaving homeowners with no options, said Wiggins.
Tuesday, SHU representatives met with the condo owners and tenants at a North Phoenix La Quinta Inn. One condo owner invited CBS 5 News inside, but SHU staff prevented a crew from entering.
"We paid for this space. It's a private meeting," said one SHU representative.
Most in the crowd asked for CBS 5 News to enter, but the request was denied.
"It's not their meeting," said a security guard hired by SHU.
Some homeowners said Grand Canyon University has an obligation to step in and help them avoid being taken advantage of.
"I think they have a moral and ethical responsibility," said Wiggins. "I applaud the fact they want to invest in the area. What I find offensive is how they are doing it. They advocate themselves as a Christian University but seem to have forgotten the eighth [commandment] - thou shall not steal. This is definitely a theft. It's a hostile takeover."
Grand Canyon University released this statement:
"Grand Canyon University is aware of Student Housing Unlimited's attempt to acquire the Quatros property, and we have expressed interest in purchasing that property from them if they are successful. SHU has assured us that they are doing everything possible to take care of the condominium's residents. It is our understanding that an overwhelming number of residents are in favor of the offers from SHU to purchase their condominiums because the complex is in financial disrepair and has become a focus of increased criminal activity in recent years.
"GCU's intent is to transform a complex that is in ill-repair into classrooms and laboratories that will help educate our growing student population, 70 percent of whom are from Arizona, and benefit citizens and the economy for decades to come."
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