FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Vangelakos’ southwest Florida condominium has marble floors, a large pool overlooking a river and modern furnishings that speak of affluence and luxury. What they don’t have in the 32-story building is a single neighbor.
The New Jersey family of five purchased their unit four years ago, when Fort Myers was in the midst of a housing boom and any hints of an impending financial crisis were buried in lofty dreams of expansion and development. They made a $10,000 down payment and eagerly watched as builders transformed an empty lot into an opulent high rise, one that now symbolizes the foreclosure crisis.
"The future was going to be southwest Florida," said Victor Vangelakos, 45, a fire captain who planned to eventually retire and live permanently in the condo.
Most of the other tenants in the 200-unit condo didn’t close on their contracts, and the few that did have transferred to an adjacent building owned by the same company because more people live there.
The Vangelakos’ mortgage lender will not allow them to do the same.
That leaves them as the sole residents of the Oasis Tower One.
It’s a little different having an entire condo tower to yourself:
When the Vangelakos’ travel from, N.J., to spend a week or a few days in their Florida home, they have exclusive use of the pool, game room and gym, but they miss having a few tenants around.
"Being from the city, it’s very eerie," Vangelakos said. "It’s almost like a scary movie."
A large, circular fountain in front of the building is dry. The automatic glass doors that lead to the front lobby are locked. On the front desk is a guest sign-in sheet. The last entry: Feb. 13, 2009.
"It’s like time froze here six months ago," Ewing said.
Hey, at least they don’t have to worry about the noisy neighbors.