Harbor Hill (Building 6) | Formerly Harbor Hill at Provincetown Condominium
Building 6 at Harbor Hill. [2018, Dunlap]
To more than 1,000 purchasers, the four-building Harbor Hill timeshare complex must have sounded like a dream; a chance to own a stake in Provincetown that was small enough to be affordable but big enough to serve as a vacation home in perpetuity. Their dream, however, turned into a nightmare when the office manager embezzled so much money that the timeshare was driven into bankruptcy in 2016. Then, out of the collapse of Harbor Hill came an opportunity for the Town of Provincetown to get into the business of renting apartments to full-time residents with relatively modest incomes. This process has been complicated, litigated, drawn out, more expensive than anticipated, and generally contentious. At day’s end, the Provincetown Year-Round Market-Rate Rental Housing Trust expects to offer 28 desperately needed units. But patience has been needed.
“Please consider kindly that we are all working to make this project a success,” Nathan Butera, the chairman of the trust, said in September 2020, when the unfinished effort was in its fourth year, “not only for its own sake, but for the future of housing in Provincetown and for the future of Provincetown itself.”1
Left: The future Harbor Hill site in 1976. Right: The current site, showing the footprint of the original house incorporated into Building 5, at 4 Harbor Hill Road.
During the timeshare era. [2011, Dunlap]
Signs of distress. [2018, Dunlap]
The heavy red outline shows the overall bounds of Harbor Hill.
The seeds for Harbor Hill at Provincetown were planted in 1990, when Marilyn S. Wood, acting as the Smaling Realty Trust, sold four abutting lots at the intersection of Bradford Street Extension and Harbor Hill Road for $1.5 million to Eastwood Property Investors Limited Partnership, whose sole trustee was James J. Wood of Orleans. He created the condominium in 1991. In 1995, 37 Bradford Street Extension was built on Lot No. 7, with nine units (it now has 10); 3 Harbor Hill Road was built on Lot 6, with six units; and 8 Harbor Hill Road was built, with five units (it now has six). The following year, 4 Harbor Hill Road was constructed on Lot No. 5, with six units.
[41 Bradford Street Extension shares its provenance with these four, but is a separate property known as the Harbor Hill Condominium — to distinguish it from Harbor Hill at Provincetown.]
In the 1991 master lease, James Wood said he anticipated selling either 1/51st or 1/4 undivided fee-simple interests in the units and their furnishings, meaning that buyers would be tenants in common with the owners of the other intervals. With up to 51 possible slices of 26 pies, that meant a theoretical total of up to 1,326 owners.
Sandra B. Beichler and Rita S. Schneider of North Canton, Ohio, were an example of one such interval ownership. They paid $15,000 in July 1993 for a 1/51st share of Unit 3 in Building 4, at 8 Harbor Hill Road. They purchased Interval No. 29, which entitled them to occupy the unit for a full week, beginning on either the third or fourth Friday in July (the 16th in 1993, the 22nd in 1994, and so on).
Building 6. [2018, Dunlap]
Harbor Hill’s promotional material described these units as “suites” with one or two bedrooms, accommodating up to four or six people. Every unit was advertised as having a full kitchen, fireplace, washer and dryer, free wi-fi access, Comcast cable, Insignia flat-screen television, Sony Blu-ray DVD player, coffee maker and teapot, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, vacuum, and telephone.
“Luxuriate in our Softub hydrotherapy hot tubs … or fire up one of the Weber grills for a cookout with friends and family.”
“Luxuriate in our Softub hydrotherapy hot tubs, lounge on a choice of decks and soak up the sun, or fire up one of the Weber grills for a cookout with friends and family,” the promotional materials said. “When cooler weather moves in and the snow begins to fly, curl up by a glowing fireplace with your journal, good book or movie, and your favorite beverage.”
“Whether you’re planning a weeklong holiday, family gathering, work retreat, or a romantic weekend getaway, Harbor Hill at Provincetown is the perfect choice.”
Well, not quite perfect.
The financial meltdown of 2008 was not kind to timeshare projects of any kind. But that year turned out to be especially ruinous for this development, because it was when Donna Zoppi took charge.
“Between 2008 and 2015, Zoppi, who was the office manager at Harbor Hill, embezzled more than $1.8 million by writing herself checks from the Harbor Hill account, using the Harbor Hill debit card for personal expenditures, making A.T.M. withdrawals from the Harbor Hill account, and wiring money directly from the Harbor Hill account to her personal account,” the Massachusetts attorney general’s office said on 10 October 2019, after Zoppi pleaded guilty to one count of larceny over $250.2
“Zoppi took lavish vacations, purchased a horse for her stepdaughter, bought club level seats at Gillette Stadium.”
“During the same timeframe, Zoppi took lavish vacations, purchased a horse for her stepdaughter, bought club level seats at Gillette Stadium, and attended the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in the statement.
“As a result of Zoppi’s actions, Harbor Hill declared bankruptcy in 2016.”
Deichler and Schneider told Katy Ward of the Banner that the development had been going slowly downhill for two or three years before the bankruptcy. “They tried to avoid any controversy with Zoppi because they just wanted to come for their one week in July and have a good time,” Ward wrote. “But they heard from other timeshare owners that Zoppi was never available. … The hero in this messy situation, Schneider said, was Danielle Hawthorne, who was both a former timeshare owner and chair of the board of trustees for Harbor Hill. … Hawthorne tried to get the other owners from all over the country to pay the back taxes and fees that would allow the place to be fixed up following years of neglect that had occurred under Zoppi’s management. … Unfortunately, Schneider said, many owners stopped paying maintenance fees because they believed they had been lied to and didn’t know who to trust.”3
The “spa” was near Building 6. [2018, Dunlap]
Disaster for the timeshare owners seemed like a godsend to Town officials wrestling with how to increase the stock of affordable housing. In 2015, Senator Daniel A. Wolf of the Cape and Islands and Rep. Sarah K. Peake of the Fourth Barnstable District introduced legislation in the General Court to create the Provincetown Year-Round Market-Rate Rental Housing Trust. Passed by the legislature, the bill was signed into law on 3 November 2016 by Gov. Charlie Baker as Chapter 305 of the Acts of 2016.4
“The trust is established to create and preserve year-round rental units in the Town of Provincetown including, but not limited to, market-rate units, for the benefit of the residents of the town,” the law stated. To that end, the law established a fund, “separate and apart from the general fund of the Town,” to be managed by a board of five trustees appointed by the Select Board. Chapter 305 also directed the trust to rent the units under its control to current residents of Provincetown, municipal employees, employees of local businesses, and houses with children attending school in Provincetown.
A month after the trust was created, Town Manager David Panagore and Raphael Richter, chairman of the trust, announced their interest in acquiring the bankrupt Harbor Hill for use as publicly-owned housing. They had to act quickly. They had only two months to ready a bid for the Harbor Hill property in Bankruptcy Court.5
“This is not affordable housing. This is market rate.”
“This is not affordable housing,” cautioned Tom Donegan, a member of the Select Board and of the Year-Round Market-Rate Rental Housing Trust board. “This is market rate. They are paying full-on rent — 30 percent of their income. Expect the rules to be different and the expectations from the Town to be different.”
Harbor Hill was the only item on the warrant at a Special Town Meeting on 6 February 2017, but the gathering apparently broke modern attendance records: a total of 513 voters showed up at Town Hall. “I haven’t seen a crowd like this in a million years,” Moderator Mary-Jo Avellar said before the meeting began. Representative Peake called Harbor Hill “an opportunity we cannot turn our backs on.” But Louise Venden, a member of the Finance Committee, warned that “we rushed into this and we don’t know all the answers.”6
Building 6. [2018, Dunlap]
In the end, 68 percent of the voters approved a measure authorizing the Town to borrow $10.7 million for the acquisition and renovation of Harbor Hill.
The Town’s subsequent bid of $8.1 million was the highest of three at an initial silent auction held in Chicago on 14 February. Lexvest Group L.L.C., led by Eric Shapiro, was a fairly close second, with a $7.5 million bid. A distant third, $2.5 million, was bid by Thomas Kennedy, Ronald Rudnick, and John Ciluzzi. Provincetown officials went into the second round — a live auction scheduled in Boston on 27 February — cautiously optimistic they would prevail.
A bombshell then dropped, in the form of Lemonjuice Capital of Gaithersburg, Md., led by Alexander Krakovsky, which announced its plans to bid at the Boston auction. The company describes itself as an investor “in restructuring of distressed, misgoverned, or mismanaged properties whose market value has declined significantly below the underlying value of real estate.”7
Krakovsky maintained he had interrupted the bidding process at the 11th hour to protect the interest of timeshare interval owners who had been blindsided by the bankruptcy. “They were rightly confused and frustrated,” he told the Banner. As far as the bankruptcy trustee, Warren E. Agin, was concerned, Lemonjuice was simply playing a tried-and-true legal tactic in order to insert itself in the process and gain enough shares to consolidate intervals into profitable condo units.8
What Lemonjuice ultimately got out of its intervention was the right to buy foreclosed intervals at a discount and then receive the court-ordered settlement for those intervals to which timeshare owners would be entitled. In exchange, the company agreed not to contest the sale of Harbor Hill to the Town, or the dissolution of the condominium association.9
Building 6, at right of entrance rotary. [2018, Dunlap]
Finally, on 4 September 2018, after the necessary 80 percent of the interval owners agreed to termination agreements, the Town was declared to be the owner of Harbor Hill. Its plan was to renovate the structures and to add two units that complied with the Americans With Disabilities Act, for a total of 28. “They will be rented to Provincetown residents, Provincetown employees and families in the Provincetown schools who earn between 80 and 200 percent of the Barnstable County area median income,” the Banner explained. “Rents will be calculated on a sliding scale. A single person earning between $47,000 and $126,000 would pay $1,300 to $3,400 per month, while a two-person household making between $54,000 and $144,000 would pay about $1,500 to $4,000 a month. Residents must live in Provincetown year-round, and can be away from town for no more than six weeks a year.”10
The first tenant moved in May 2019.
3 Harbor Hill Road on the Town Map, showing property lines.
Also at this address
1 “Provincetown Voters Approve New Budget, Ban Sales of Plastic Water Bottles,” by Ethan Genter, Provincetown Banner, 23 September 2020.
2 “Eastham Woman Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to State Prison for Stealing $1.8 Million from Provincetown Timeshare,” Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, 10 October 2019.
3 “Timeshare Owners Speak of Their Struggles at Provincetown’s Harbor Hill,” by Katy Ward, Provincetown Banner, 2 August 2018.
4 “An Act Establishing a Provincetown Year-round Market Rate Rental Housing Trust Fund in the Town of Provincetown,” Chapter 305 of the Acts of 2016.
5 “Provincetown Gets Ready to Bid on Harbor Hill,” by Katy Ward, Provincetown Banner, 15 January 2017.
6 “Provincetown Approves $10.7 Million for Harbor Hill Bid,” by Katy Ward, Provincetown Banner, 9 February 2017.
7 Alexander Krakovsky, LinkedIn.
8 “Provincetown Officials Try to Make Lemonade Out of Lemonjuice,” by Katy Ward, Provincetown Banner, 13 April 2017.
9 “Harbor Hill Purchase Back on Track,” by Edward Miller, Provincetown Banner, 6 August 2017.
10 “Provincetown Closes Purchase of Harbor Hill at Last,” by Katy Ward, Provincetown Banner, 13 September 2018.
¶ Last updated on 6 June 2022.