Article Courtesy of The Real Deal
By Francisco Alvarado
Published June 25, 2017
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas handed the
developers of Privé at Island Estates a victory this week in their
tumultuous legal war with neighboring homeowners.
Thomas ruled Tuesday that the statute of limitations had
long expired for the Island Estates Homeowners Association
and the Williams Island Property Owners Association to
challenge a vested rights determination agreement. Lawyers
for the developers contend the agreement allows Gary Cohen
and BH3’s Greg Freedman, Dan Lebensohn and Charles Phelan to
build the two-tower, 160-unit condo project in Aventura,
which is almost complete.
The associations sued the developers in 2013 in an attempt
to stop construction of the Privé condo development on the
basis Cohen had agreed in the late 1990s to only build
single-family homes on the project site, which is on an isle
north of Williams Island.
“We are confident the court got it right,” said Glen
Waldman, a partner with Waldman Barnett representing the
developers. “We are absolutely within our rights. Therefore,
the buildings will be done in the next 30 days. Any claims
impeding the completion, the selling [of units], having
people move in and giving them an amazing lifestyle are all
Prive at Island Estates on Jan. 26
In siding with the developers, Thomas wrote that homeowners had five years
from 2006, when the vested rights agreement was recorded, to challenge it in
court. The Williams Island association did not file its lawsuit until April
2013 and Island Estates did not file until October 2013.
“We have counterclaims seeking between $30 million to $50 million,” Waldman
said. “Those are very much alive and are bolstered by this ruling.”
Susan Raffanello, a shareholder with Coffey Burlington representing the
homeowners associations, said she and her clients were surprised by Thomas’
order, especially since a previous judge, Jerald Bagley, had denied earlier
attempts by the developers to have their claims on the vested rights
agreement thrown out.
“Obviously, we disagree with the basis for the court’s ruling,” Raffanello
said. “In fact, we had won on that issue numerous times with the previous
judge. We are extremely confident an appellate court will overturn the
decision. The fight is far from over.”
Raffanello also noted that Thomas is allowing the claim by the Island
Estates association that the road easement for the Privé project was
intended for single family homes to move forward. “We are going to trial on
the easement issues,” she said. “In the declaration, it states the road will
be used for single family development on the North Island. We are very
comfortable with out evidence [on that issue].”
The associations and the developers also have two other pending lawsuits
against each other.
In January, New York-based Maxim Capital and Austin-based Prophet Capital
Asset Management provided $102 million in financing to the developers,
adding to a previous $25 million loan from Maxim. Privé, on an 8-acre island
at 5000 Island Estates Drive, topped off in November at 16 stories and is
more than 70 percent sold with more than $300 million under contract,
according to the developers.