Ghostly Tao Sawgrass Condos Now Renting Units

In this week's feature story about South Florida's condo bust, we introduced you to one of the biggest symbols of the real estate boom's folly: Tao Sawgrass in Sunrise. The twin, 26-story condo towers were built on the edge of the Everglades, next door to the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall. When construction began three years ago, Sunrise leaders predicted the project would bring wealthy new residents to western Broward County.

But so far, property records show that about 36 of the 396 units have sold. And it's not clear how many people are living there. Many of the buyers were investors, who never intended to move in. (When New Times inquired, Carolyn Van Gorder, marketing director for Hyperion Development, which is selling Tao's units, said she could not confirm or deny the presence of residents.)

Now, at least one owner is trying to rent out a unit. An online ad posted by Exit Team Realty II touts a two-bedroom, two-bath unit available for a mere $2,800 a month. Plenty of amenities are included--spa, pool, tennis courts, gym, wi-fi and cable--but the best perk is listed at the beginning of the ad: "Be the 1st to live in this luxurious new condo," it says.

Lorna Reyes-Diaz, a listing agent with Exit Team Realty II, says she has already rented a one-bedroom unit, and the tenant intends to move in soon. When she last checked a few months ago, she says she was told that about eight people were living in the complex. She now visits the complex regularly, to show units, and is pleased to see that there's more activity. And she doesn't appreciate the negative publicity about the place being vacant, because that makes it hard for her to get clients.

"There's people living there for sure," she says.

There you have it. A handful of people living amid hundreds of ghostly units. Sounds like paradise, doesn't it?

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