Carbon Grove saga lingers as public auction ends in failure | THE DAILY HERALD

Residents of Carbon Grove urge FCIB to pave the road and install street lights to enhance safety and accessibility for all residents.

PHILIPSBURG–No bids were received during the public auction of Carbon Grove Estate by Notary Boekhoudt on Thursday morning. The representative of FirstCaribbean International Bank (FCIB), owner of the mortgage rights, declined to comment.

Only a dozen people were present for the auction of several properties across various locations on the island. The interested parties for Carbon Grove, the unfinished gated community on Cole Bay Hill, comprised solely one group of local investors. However, confusion stemming from the appraisal report led to no bids being placed by their representative.

Dwain Carbon, owner of Carbon Acquisition Group (CAG) operating under the banner of Melbon Enterprises, showcased the Carbon Grove gated community, boasting a grand total of 92 homes, 64 condominiums, and 28 town-houses. However, the stark reality unveiled by the appraisal report painted a different picture, revealing that only 55 units either have been fully constructed or are in various stages of completion, and 23 units that were previously pre-sold are still nothing more than a concept, aptly described by the appraiser as “air.”

CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank informed CAG clients in October 2023 that the total amount due under the loans secured by the right of mortgage exceeded US $3.6 million. “CIBC FirstCaribbean reserves all of its rights, including the right to enforce its mortgage rights by auctioning the mortgaged properties,” the bank’s lawyer wrote.

“CIBC FirstCaribbean regrets that the Carbon Grove building project executed by Melbon Enterprises N.V. was not successfully completed,” stated the letter. “Please note that your lawyer informed you correctly and CIBC FirstCaribbean indeed owns rights of mortgages over the apartment rights (previously) owned by Melbon Enterprises N.V.”

CIBC FirstCaribbean’s rights include properties that were transferred to other parties pursuant to court judgments. In 2021 and 2022 many homebuyers holding sales agreements for either Carbon Grove or Guana Bay took Melbon Enterprises to court. Based on civil proceedings the CAG clients were awarded rights to the properties for which they had paid and signed. However, those without a deed to their property stand to lose their property through public auction on instruction of the bank.

In the audience, a Canadian-American couple remains rightfully owed a complete refund for their investment in a condominium that Carbon, without their knowledge, resold to another party. Despite a court ruling siding with them, the developer, Carbon, along with his family, has absconded to the United States and persistently delays making the payment.

Among the attendees, two other buyers have been more fortunate than the majority of Carbon’s more than 100 deceived clients. They succeeded in obtaining a deed for their property and eagerly anticipate the auction’s outcome, hoping that the transfer of the Carbon Grove Estate to a more reliable and conscientious owner would occur.

"Nothing has changed," said the disillusioned deed owners. One of them had fully paid for his condominium, while the other is still paying off a mortgage to FirstCaribbean Bank.

In the wake of developer Carbon’s failure to fulfil his obligations to the bank, FirstCaribbean Bank opted to sell mortgage rights to Carbon Grove residents, seeking to recoup a portion of its US $7.5 million mortgage loan to Carbon Acquisition Group (CAG). For the resident attending the

auction, this translates to a condensed time-frame for mortgage repayment, leaving her only six years before reaching retirement age and consequently facing significantly higher monthly payments.

As FCIB remains the owner of Carbon Grove Estate, it is imperative for the bank to take swift action in ensuring the infrastructure is properly maintained, the residents concluded. They emphasised the urgent need for paved roads and the installation of street lights to enhance safety and accessibility for all residents.

Following the departure of Carbon and associates from the island, unit owners found themselves compelled to take matters into their own hands, completing the construction of their properties independently. They faced the daunting task of connecting to a septic tank and navigating the complexities of securing electricity and water access, especially after GEBE NV declined to acknowledge the legally undivided status of Carbon Grove Estate, thus refusing to provide utilities.

With the responsibility now falling on FirstCaribbean Bank, the residents unanimously urge the bank to fulfil its role in making the area more habitable and ensuring the essential amenities are provided for the community’s well-being

Source: The Daily Herald