Km 1.3, Bo. Mamey I, Sector Laberinto
Guaynabo, PR 00989
This property originally was part of the main Finca #1239 belonging to John Frederick Beidleman. The segregation of 2,914.671 square meters was the western part of the Finca and was segregated on February 26th, 1973. It was bordered on the WEST by a Municipal road connecting State Road 834 and then State Road 835. To the SOUTH was property owned by Fernando Rodriguez and a parcel owned by the Water Company (AAA) upon which a large reserve water tank had been constructed. The AAA also had a right of way for its pipes connecting the Tank from the EAST and access from the WEST for maintenance purposes. To the NORTH was part of the original Finca which later was segregated to make the Parcel for the Frank A. Molther house and to the EAST was the rest of the main Finca.
Beidleman was unable to build his dream house so he sold his interest to James W. Claussen and his wife, Susan Page. The house was built by and for James W. Claussen in 1973 who was a very short man. While being constructed, James W. Claussen lived in a small two room annex to the west of the Frank A. Molther home which was on the parcel directly to the NORTH. His stature was one reason why the kitchen has a very low ceiling. The house faced generally to the North-east and looked out on the backside of Beverly Hills with La Muda to the left and the Caguas Valley to the right.
While Molther, a well known architect in Puerto Rico, had designed his own home with a very open and tropical look, Claussen was more a modernist. Both homes used flat concrete roofs with inverted concrete support beams resting on poured concrete columns. Extensive use of sliding glass doors was common in both.
The Parcel used an access driveway from the unpaved farm road to the West. Since there was no water, telephone or electric service to the property, Molther and Claussen had to install poles and piping from the State Road 834 and to reduce the length for the service decided to use the same main entryway as close to State Road 834 as possible. A right of way and a mutual permanent easement for the driveway was issued to Molther and Claussen for his property access on 4 September 1977 since the driveway was mainly on the Claussen parcel. However, at the top of the driveway it was necessary for Molther to provide an easement to Claussen to permit an access into Claussen’s property.
In 1978, Claussen sold the property as a weekend retreat to Joaquin Soler Climet, a major distributor of GM cars and trucks in San Juan, for the price of $125,000. Many wonderful weekends with family and friends were enjoyed around the pool and the large terrace.
In 1978, Molther sold his home on the next door property to John and Jean Cullen for $88,000. In 1981, John and Jean divorced and Jeannette married Nicholas Mouravieff –Apostol. They remained in the house and began the 10 year remodelling that ended in 1998 as the "Castle".
On October 1st, 1986, Soler sold the property to a retired Banco de Ponce Vice President, Cesar Pacheco Diaz and his wife Sonia Margarita Perez, for $140,068.70. In 1987 he took out a mortgage with R&G Mortgage for $175,000 at an interest rate of 10 ¾%. Pacheco was given early retirement when Banco Popular took over Banco de Ponce. He used part of his $300,000 separation pay to buy the house and some to buy a racehorse at El Comandante racetrack. The horse produced huge winnings and even went to the Kentucky Derby. When Pacheco tried to repeat his success he was met with one failure after another and on 17 February 1995 he sold the house for $225,000 to John Brian Sharp and his wife Alicia Lebrato Diaz who took out a Mortgage at Doral Bank for $180,000 at 9 ¾% interest.
Sharp was a sales manager for Nicholas Apostol at Environmental Plastics of PR Inc. in Cidra. His mother was ailing in a town near Jacksonville, Florida and he had hoped to receive his inherritance. Taking care of his mother cost a lot and took more of his time than anticipated. On the 27th of May 1997 he took out an eight year equity line with Doral for $23,000 at 10% interest. His wife remained at the house with their daughter. She had some bad habits and had taken a liking to a young man from the Llorens Torres Project. On one occasion she and her boy friend stole a weapon and some credit cards from her parents and also attempted to rob the Apostol home next door. Sharp and his wife ended up divorcing and on 28 January 1998, they sold the home to Mathew Gage Diamond and his wife Nancy Rae Cano Peral for $231,000.
Prior to being able to close on the purchase, the Diamonds were required to build a new Septic System and pass a final inspection of same. The system was built on the land just below and to the North of the swimming pool with the drain field stretching to its east and west along the sloping hillside. It took two attempts before finally obtaining an approved inspection.
The Diamonds moved in with two teenage children in February 1998 and obtained a mortgage with First Security Mortgage for $213,600 at 8 3/8% on March 1, 1998. The loan was aquired by Citibank on 9 April 1998 as loan # 293293-8. Mathew worked for a Mortuary Services company. However, his addiction to cocaine and alcohol eventually led to their split in June 1998. Nancy left with her children for North Carolina in July 1998.
In August 1998, Apostol bought the Finca to the NORTH of the property from the Frank A. Molther Estate for $60,000.
In September 1998, Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico and ravaged the house which was uninhabited at the time. The windows were taken out, floors flooded and erosion to the North and west sides was serious causing a landslide that took all the eastern side of the Septic tank drainfield to fall below onto the Finca belonging to Apostol and blocking his access road below. Notice part of the septic tank drain field piping on the left and right of the earth that collapsed.
The insurance paid Mathew Diamond and Nancy $5,000+ for the damages. Mathew endorsed and cashed the check alone and never spent a penny on the house. Estimates to restore the home to habitable condition ranged from $96,000 -$169,000.
Nancy Cano realized the house could not be sold without a tremendous loss due to its condition. So she agreed to sell the house to Nicholas Apostol, the neighbor for the value of the mortgage (ie transfer the debt to Apostol) and signed a Bill of Sale to that effect on 20 June 1999. Apostol paid the monthly mortgage payments starting in July 1999 of $1,707.94 and agreed to pay Citibank the previous arrears of $8,968.59 which was done in November 1999. He took over the electric service and phone services. However, Citibank could not do anything regarding the transfer until the existing mortgage had been reclaimed and Title to the property restored to them.
Nancy Cano had filed for divorce in San Juan and was granted the house and custody of the children. Until the Court issued the “Separacion de Bienes y Gananciales”, the Sale to Apostol could not be formalized.
As of 1 November 1999 the mortgage debt was $210,465.17. Citibank had to foreclose with Divorce Court permission and once it had clear title it could proceed to transfer ownership to Apostol. In the meantime, Apostol agreed to maintain the property and provide security. Apostol had made Citibank aware that a substantial discount would be involved and that the estimated value was in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $75,000.
In August of 1999, the water company, AAA, began construction of a backup powerplant for their water pumping station located adjacent to the property. In the process they performed land movement and also began to tear down the small garage. Apostol stopped the process and showed the AAA that it had taken over land to which it did not have title. In July of 2000 the AAA agreed to pay Apostol $25,000 for the land it had invaded and the process began to undertake the required surveys and undertake the necessary segregations. This never was completed and to this day the AAA occupies some 300 square meters of land improperly confiscated from the Finca for which there has been no compensation nor any segregation or issuance of a revised Escritura.
In July 2000, Nacy Rae Cano filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection in North Carolina. This caused further delays regarding the sale of the house or the foreclosure petition of Citibank. All the while, Apostol paid the electric and maintenance costs and provided security while rehabilitating the house and especially maintaining the swimming pool free of insects.
Apostol advised Citibank that the house was not habitable and that Citibank could not transfer ownership of the property until it had resolved the environmental impact issues of the Septic System (tank and drainfield) and compensated Apostol. As owners of the property Citibank would assume full responsibility and if it failed to transfer ownership to Apostol it would remain responsible for all criminal and civil penalties that might be involved for failure to comply with environmental laws in force regarding Septic Systems for private dwellings.
Finally, on 9 May 2002, the Court declared final sentence in favor of Citibank allowing it to auction the property. The bank would not get final title until 2004 but by then Citibank’s real estate portfolio was transferred to Banco Popular and Citibank closed all operations in Puerto Rico.
On December 3, 2002 Apostol sold the house ("Castle") to the WEST of the property but retained all the property below and to the NORTH of the house as a separate Finca of approximately 22,000 square meters. The sale of the house to Mercedes Jenouri Maldonado and her husband Martin Goldman for $900,000 was financed by a 100% mortgage for that amount from R&G Mortgage in San Juan. $200,000 of the payment was loaned back to Mercedes by Apostol for one year to be used to make some improvements (apartment over casita for maid’s quarters, repainting entire house, reseal roof of main residence) and $100,000 was placed as a one year CD to offset the loan made by R&G to Mercedes. Mercedes defaulted several times both to the bank and to Apostol. In September 2010, R&G was closed by regulators and the real estate portfolio was transferred to Scotia Bank de Puerto Rico and finally the house was foreclosed on June 15 of 2011 and became bank property on 17 September 2011 when the Final Sentence was pronounced. It is believed Mercedes finally left the property in July of 2012.
Sometime in 2005, Mercedes Jenouri bought the subject property by buying the mortgage at a discount. She then took a $267,000 mortgage out with R&G Mortgage and subsequently defaulted. To obtain a loan for 100% of the price was a repeat of her previous performance when she purchased the house next door from Apostol. In this case, the house being purchased was in deplorable condition and unlivable. This strongly suggests there was collusion between a bank official and the borrower and on more than one occasion. The house was foreclosed on by R&G in 2008 but the case was dropped. The mortgage was transferred in a package to Scotiabank of Puerto Rico when R&G was shut down by Bank regulators on September 30, 2010. That bank finished the foreclosure on the property on 7 June 2011 and farmed it out to independent brokers in Puerto Rico to resell in 2011 but failed to inform over the true status of the property.
It was sold to Marelli and Andy Serra for $230,000 in July of 2011. Banco Popular had obtained an appraisal for that amount despite the fact that the house was a shell and thoroughly uninhabitable. The mortgage for the same amount included a $50,000 cash payment to rehabilitate the house. The mortgage was given by Banco Popular of Puerto Rico. No inspection was undertaken to assure the adequacy of the septic system which remained in its damaged form nor was the integrity of the landholding assured. The Mortgage was guaranteed by the FHA. By 2015, the couple were engaged in a bitter divorce with each contesting the property ownership rights. Andy spent time at the property but it remained in a semi-abandoned state with nothing being done to restore the property.
Here is a chart of the owners and pricing:
YEAR OWNER COST NOTES
1958-1970 John Beidelman $ 5,000 LAND only
1970-1976 James Claussen $ 15,000 Built house
1976-1986 Joaquin Soler $125,000
1986-1995 Cesar Pacheco $140,000
1995-1998 John Sharp $225,000
1998-1999 Mathew Diamond $231,000 Hurricane damage
1999-2005 Nicholas Apostol $ 67,000 sale not formalized
2005-2009 Mercedes Jenouri $237,000
2011- Andy Serra $230,000
Given the depressed real estate market and the condition of the abandoned property in 2011, it is extraordinary that the price declared was the same for the house in perfect condition 13 years earlier.