After moving from Manhattan to Fort Lauderdale last month, Stephen Dietz and his wife were excited to snag a two-bedroom apartment in the 30-story Amaray Las Olas, a new luxury tower said to be one of the most expensive apartment buildings ever built in the city. Barely a year old, their home at 215 SE Eighth Ave. boasted private pool cabanas, a yoga studio, and a dog spa.
The two had been living in the apartment for only a couple of weeks when forecasters began predicting a worst-case scenario for Hurricane Irma. Before evacuating, Dietz sent an email asking if the building had impact-resistant glass; a leasing agent reassured him the windows could withstand winds up to 250 mph.
Unfortunately, that information wasn't true: Upon returning home, the Dietzes discovered the guest bedroom of their 16th-floor apartment was soaked. Because of a malfunction in the mechanism that connects the windows to the ceiling, Dietz says, rain from the hurricane leaked into units on multiple floors.
"I'm pissed," he says. "The basic function of a window is to be a partition from the weather, right?"
After assessing the damage, the couple stripped the sopping-wet carpet from the bedroom and waited weeks for the building to replace it. Though Amaray offered to pay a portion of their power bill to cover the large industrial fans used to dry the room, Dietz says management refused to prorate rent for the month or let the couple out of their one-year lease. Worse, he's concerned that new renters aren't being informed of the faulty windows.
"They're advertising as this fortress of luxury," he says. "They keep on renting out these apartments every day to new tenants, and it feels a bit weird that they're comfortable doing that when there's a big safety issue there."
Reached by phone, property manager Dana Costa said he couldn't comment about the hurricane damage. He referred New Times to the apartment's corporate parent, Windsor Property Management, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Stuck in the apartment, Dietz says he worries what might happen the next time a hurricane makes landfall in Florida.
"I'm here with my wife, and I don't know at what point we'd need to evacuate," he says. "When they're forecasting a Category 1, do we need to leave then?"
In the meantime, they'll look for a new place to live when their lease ends next August, he says. Prices at Amaray range from $2,600 for a one-bedroom/one-bathroom to $7,500 for a three-bedroom/three-bathroom. The building is located only a few blocks from the pricey Las Olas islands.
"We will not be renewing," Dietz says. "Even if it was free, I don't think I'd live here."