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In the News from Panama

Ocean Club Homeowners Group Returning Money to Owners

The board of the directors of the homeowners association of the JW Marriott Ocean Club unanimously approved a financial relief program for owners this week, which will return thousands of dollars in reserve funds to help owners during the COVID-19 crisis.

In an emergency session, the board of the P.H. TOC Owners Association agreed to immediately begin a four-month distribution of retained capital, representing the surplus funds accumulated since the association took over control of the management of Panama’s most iconic tower in 2015.

“We can’t reduce the HOA fees, but the board agreed that using the building’s reserves to help owners is the right thing to do,” says PPR President Duncan McGowan, who serves as president of the residential component of the association. He worked on the plan with the other members of the board of directors. “We’re showing solidarity with the owners in these trying times and trying to help in any way possible.”

The move is highly unusual for a homeowner’s association and the Ocean Club is almost certainly the only building in Panama City returning funds to owners. The P.H. TOC Administration, which represents owners of all five components of the building—residential, office, hotel, casino and retail — was able to build up the reserve after taking over control of the maintenance of the common areas in 2015, after a dispute with the previous managers, an arm of the Trump Organization.

Beginning month, the association will distribute a minimum of $500,000 to owners on a monthly basis through July. The money will be based on a formula of $1 per square meter and will be delivered as a credit to the owner’s account. If the effects of the pandemic extend past July, the board authorized the distribution of an additional $250,000 based on $125,000 per month.

“These are difficult times for everyone including the P.H. TOC Owners, the residents, the employees, associates and providers of various services of P.H. TOC,” Griselda L Perez, the president and administrator of the association, said in a statement.

In the wake of the government guidelines to urge people to stay at home and prevent the spread of the virus, the association is reducing administrative staffing and adopting new regulations to protect staff and residents.

“These are extraordinary times and we hope our ability to return money to the owners will help over the difficult next few months,” McGowan said.