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University Village retirement community on auction block

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) —The nightmare of not knowing dragged into bankruptcy court today for retirees living at University Village and their families.

The continuing care retirement community’s future and financial health, on life support already, was literally on the auction block. The uncertainty of the past nearly three years has people at University Village on edge.

“We feel like we’ve been victimized by people who were using our home as their real estate investment and they don’t think about us as people,” said resident Glenda Hubbard.

A lot of people paid a lot of money to retire and live until life’s end at University Village.  Some worry the end could be a bit premature.

“We have been under this pressure for almost two years, we are looking forward to the resolution of it,” added resident Mickey Castor.

Instead of resting comfortably, people living at the retirement community began stressing just months after a new ownership group, headed by John Bartle, took over.

The Office of Insurance Regulation contends the group did not get the required state approval.

According to O-I-R, the new owners weren’t paying bills, owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and did not have enough money to properly run the facility, which includes apartments for independent living, assisted living and an end of life skilled nursing facility.

According to residents, buildings fell into disrepair.

O-I-R claimed owners were executing management contracts with friends and family at unreasonable prices.

One member of the ownership team, Eli Frieden, attended the hearing in bankruptcy court today.

“I wasn’t involved in the facility operations.  We are a silent investor, partners and I only jumped in when things started to go a little bit south,” explained Mr. Frieden.

He jumped into deals with Mr. Bartle in other states too.

Questions about money also plagued some of those investments.  In bankruptcy court, two companies submitted bids for University Village.

Southpoint initially offered $22,200,000 dollars.  Another company, A Plus, offered $21,500,000 dollars.  During the morning session, Southpoint announced it was hiking its bid by $5,600,000 to a total of $27,800,000 dollars.

“It was a game changer that was delivered today and what our hope is, we want to find out if it’s real and it’s true,” said David Jennis, an attorney representing residents at University Village.

“I feel like they’ve taken advantage of us, I don’t think they care what happens to us,” added Ms. Hubbard.

Mr. Jennis wanted more time to review the numbers.

Judge Michael G. Williamson continued the case to Monday at 9:30 a.m.

If you have a problem that you think should be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews sandrews@wfla.com.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON-

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