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Condo association loses legal battle

In April 2013, Williams Island Property Owners Association filed a lawsuit against the city of Aventura, Florida, Gary Cohen and Prive Developers LLC, which is a partnership between BH3 and Cohen. The lawsuit was to halt any new development on a two-tower condominium (The Privé at Island Estates) in Aventura.

In addition, a neighboring group of homeowners belonging to the Island Estates Homeowners' Association filed their own lawsuit in October 2013. A year later, the Island Estates HOA filed a second complaint accusing the city of Aventura of giving permission for BH3 to build a sidewalk that they claim infringed on their properties. The judge's verdict was favorable in this case.

However, Williams Island Property Owners' Association had previously signed a settlement agreement with the original developers of the luxury complex in 1982 stating that "neither party would interfere with new projects." The April 2013 lawsuit was a direct violation of the 1982 agreement. Also, according to Cohen's attorney, Williams Island encouraged the Island Estates HOA to file their suit.

After years of litigation, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court jury ruled in favor of Cohen and BH3 for the violation of the 1982 agreement. They awarded them $26 million in damages. According to their attorney, the three lawsuits had really hurt their business and cost them exorbitant interest rates, lost contracts, delays in sales of units and tarnished their reputation.

Williams Island Property Owners' Association, owners of "The Privé at Island Estates" condominiums, which consists of 150 units, began closing on unit sales in January. About 75 percent of the units are sold with prices ranging from $2.3 million to $8.6 million. The condo unit owners will each have to pay around $12,000 as part of the settlement to Cohen and BH3.

Construction and development litigation is a complex business with much at stake. Large sums of money, reputations and future development may all rise or fall on one lawsuit. This is why it is important for developers of large construction projects to retain a highly experienced legal counsel who can litigate diverse issues that might arise.

Source: The Real Deal, "Privé developers to collect $21.6M settlement, ending legal battle," Ina Cordle, March 12, 2018

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