It was advertised as luxury downtown living, live-work units just blocks from the ballpark. Tenants, however, say it's been work just living at Sigsbee Row.
"It's been hell," said Jordan Wilkinson, who paid more than $30,000 in up-front rent to move into the building.
It turns out that Wilkinson and other people in the building were never supposed to be living there in the first place. According to city records, the Sigsbee Row Condos never finished construction, never passed a final inspection and never received a certificate of occupancy. That means no one was ever supposed to move into the property.
Tenants said that did not stop developer Glenn Wilbor from listing the units online and then collecting tens of thousands of dollars in deposits and advance-rent payments.
Alana Sills, a single mom who dreamed of operating an art gallery out of her unit, was another tenant in the building. She said that she gave Wilbor several thousand dollars and spent as much as $50,000 to set up a four-story gallery. She said that money is gone.
"Nothing -- I'm not getting anything back," Sills said. "And now I've got to look at moving out and finding a new place and establishing a new gallery."
Tenants said that they had no electricity, nor did they have any hot water when they moved into the building in the fall. They said Wilbor brought in a generator that tenants were responsible for filling with diesel fuel overnight to keep the power and heat on. Eventually, they claim, even the generators were turned off. The tenants got their own generator, which Sillis claims cost them each more than $1,000 a month to operate.
The bank has now taken over the building and officials have told everyone to move out.
Jordan Wilkinson said he asked Wilbor for his money back several times but was told that it was spent.
"He offered me his couch and his printer as some sort of payment," Wilkinson said.
On Monday, Wilbor said the property never got its certificate of occupancy because some tenants blocked the inspections. He said tenants begged him to move in, which is why they were allowed to move in before the inspections were completed.
Wilbor said most of the tenants were living in the building rent-free for several months. He also said he is trying to work out an arrangement to pay back the people who paid rent in advance. Wilbor is now working for Wells Fargo in its home mortgage department.