Lawsuit seeks to block Miami-Dade condo and hotel project [3-21-16]

Article Courtesy of The South Florida Business Journal

By Brian Bandell

Published March 14, 2016

A condo association lawsuit aims to halt the Apeiron condominium and hotel project at the Jockey Club near North Miami.

On March 9, the two associations for the Jockey Club Condominiums I and II filed a lawsuit against Apeiron Miami and the association of the third condo building on the property. The complaint claims that the Apeiron development plan would violate a 1977 settlement agreement between the 259 units in condo buildings I and II, and the developer of the third condo building.

The Jockey Club I and II associations are represented in the lawsuit by attorneys Glen H. Waldman, Stephen Helfman and Alejandro Uribe Sevilla-Sacasa. Waldman said that several longtime residents negotiated the 1977 deal.

Apeiron, managed by Muayad “Mo” Abbas and Michael Bedner, owns about 13 acres of the 22-acre Jockey Club site at 11111 Biscayne Blvd. It plans to build 240 condo units in two towers and 90 hotel rooms, in addition to expanding the shared amenities with a wellness facility, tennis courts, pools and a 38-slip marina.

The Apeiron at the Jockey Club would rise 40 stories near North Miami.

“A small group of residents with uncertain motives is seeking to derail our development based on an old agreement, which is no longer enforceable,” Abbas said. “We will continue to move forward with the plan for Apeiron, which will enhance the entire Jockey Club grounds for all surrounding residents.”

The developer has yet to launch condo sales or obtain county approval. However, it obtained a $21 million loan in late 2015.

“It would be a terrible development because you would have increased density, you would have three years of construction and increased traffic,” Waldman said. “There is no win for the people in buildings I and II. It won’t increase the price of their units. It will probably decrease the price of their units.”

When asked about Apeiron’s plans to redevelop the amenities at the Jockey Club, Waldman said the existing tennis courts and pools are fine and the wellness center wouldn’t make a big difference to residents.

Apeiron paid $3.25 million in 2014 for the property. According to the complaint, it inherited from the seller a 1977 settlement that restricted additional residential development on the site. The developer of building III promised the residents of building II that it would not seek to build additional residential units without the permission of the association for building II.

That agreement was recorded in county records. In addition, that lawsuit cites a 1995 agreement among the associations of all three buildings that said all covenants on the property would remain with the title to the land, even if it’s sold. The 1995 deal granted residents of all three buildings access to the common areas and the right to approve changes to the development plan, according to the lawsuit.

The associations for buildings I and II said in the lawsuit that they don’t support the construction of a hotel or more residential at the Jockey Club. It also claimed that Apeiron agreed to pay the association for building III about $10 million to support its project. The associations of buildings I and II declined the developer’s offer of compensation for their support, according to the lawsuit.

“Apeiron has taken the erroneous position that only Jockey Club III needs to join the [development] application,” the lawsuit said. “Buildings I and II and its residents will also be irreparably injured by any further development on the Jockey Club property, as any additional development will result in, among other things, excess density, traffic, construction, reduced parking, hundred access to their homes and an overall disruption to their quality of life, which each unit owner bargained for when [they] purchased their respective units.”

The lawsuit also claims that the Apeiron project would encroach on long-term easements used by condo buildings I and II.

The complaint seeks a permanent injunction against Apeiron’s development plan until the associations of all three buildings approve it.