Pavilion from the Ocean

Pavilion from the Ocean

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This forum, by owners for owners, provides useful information for owners to view and discuss.

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Does Your Community Association Obtain Competitive Bids?

Board members learn about and evaluate proposed community projects by comparing different products, services, prices, methods and means to accomplish the same objective.   Community leaders should know that the Florida statutes require competitive bidding for significant contracts. For condominiums and cooperatives, the statutes requires competitive bidding for service contracts and contracts for the purchase or lease of materials or equipment that cost more than 5% of the annual budget (including reserves). For a homeowner’s association, the requirement is the same, except there is a higher threshold of 10% of the total annual budget, (including reserves). HOAleader recently published articles about bidding, one of them is Save the HOA Money: Create Bidding Guidelines. The board doesn’t have to accept the lowest bid and the law doesn’t specify how many bids the board must collect and review.   In fact, sometimes a higher bid is the better choice for the association.  Bids must be kept on file as an official record and made available for inspection by owners, upon written request.  The HOA statute requires the association to keep bids on file for one (1) year. The condo statute includes bids in the section governing accounting records – those are kept for at least seven (7) years.  Many associations make the mistake of throwing out rejected bids to reduce the volume of paperwork in the office.  Unfortunately that may lead to trouble when an owner requests to see those bids later on. There are exceptions to bidding requirements in Florida for certain contracts.  Many professional services are exempt such as contracts with attorneys, accountants, CAMs, architects and engineers.  Contracts for emergency service are likewise exempt. What happens if there is only one provider in the area? If the proposed provider is the only source for that service, equipment or material within the county, the board doesn’t need to go through the exercise of obtaining bids from vendors outside the geographic area. Obtaining more than one bid can give the board greater insight into how to approach a problem.  Nonetheless, it is still a good idea to use professional consultants when the bids relate to a significant construction or repair project as the scope of services may be expressed in a highly technical way.  Some bids may contain the use of proprietary products or services that make it very hard to replace or repair in the future unless the association hires the same vendor.  You certainly want to compare “apples to apples” bids when deciding what products or services are best for your association.

A-Rod buys Miami penthouse

Yankees super slugger and Miami resident Alex Rodriguez is going bayfront in his hometown.

Rodriguez has bought a 3,200-square-foot penthouse atop the GranParaiso, a 53-story condo in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood being developed by the Related Group. He’ll have plenty of sporty neighbors; others who have bought in the Paraiso complex include DJ and music producer David Guetta, Barcelona-born tennis star Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.

They won’t have any trouble staying in shape. Amenities at four-tower, 10-acre planned community include a 100-foot pool, tennis courts, outdoor yoga and Pilates room, fitness center, spa and bowling lanes. In less virtuous moments, they can indulge at the Michael Schwartz restaurant and grab a smoke at the cigar bar. Penthouse units run $4 million and up.

No word on whether Rodriguez will actually live in the condo. He’s also building a home in South Miami-Dade. But he won’t have to decide for a while: The building is due for completion in 2018, after his current contract with the Yankees ends.

A-Rod, as he’s commonly known, is making a comeback after a year’s suspension for his role in a steriod scandal. Earlier this season, he became the 29th player in Major League history to hit 3,000 hits. Currently he stands at 3062 career hits, with 686 homeruns.

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Faena House breaks record with $60M penthouse sale

Duplex penthouse features nearly 10,000 sf of exterior space and a rooftop pool

A penthouse in the newly completed Faena House has just been sold for $60 million — a price that breaks all residential records in the Miami area.

The eight-bedroom, 12,516-square-foot penthouse features 9,900 square feet of exterior space and a 70-foolong rooftop pool, the Wall Street Journal first reported. It was listed in 2013 and went into contract in April 2014.

Jeffrey Miller of Brown Harris Stevens Zilbert represented the buyer, who paid $4,794 per square foot for the unit. This sale beats Miami’s record price for a single-family home, which was set in 2012 with the $47 million sale of 3 Indian Creek Island Road. It also marks a record for condominium sales, beating the $27.5 million closing of a Continuum unit in December, and a combined penthouse at the Miami Beach Edition for $34 million, also in December.
The sale has not yet cleared Miami-Dade County records.

Reported early buyers at the building included Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black, Goldman Sachs Group CEO Lloyd Blankfein and art dealer Larry Gagosian.

Blankfein and his wife, Laura, paid $9.5 million for unit 8-A, TRD reported last week. Other buyers include Jose F. Fanjul Jr., of Fanjul Corp., a major player in the United States’ sugar industry, and Mark Rachesky, the chairman of Lions Gate Entertainment.

Faena House marks the first of four planned oceanfront condo towers in the ultra-luxury project, which stretches from 3200 to 3500 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. The 18-story tower, in the 3300 block of Collins Avenue, began recording closings on Sept. 3.  About half of the now-42 units have closed. Faena House was designed by Foster + Partners and includes amenities such as a gym, spa, pools, underground garage and a beach club.

Next is the Faena Hotel Residence, formerly the Saxony Hotel, which will include 13 penthouse residences. In April, developer Alan Faena announced the addition of two condo towers to his complex in Mid-Miami Beach: Faena Versailles Contemporary with 41 units and the Faena Versailles Classic with 22 units — in the 3400 block of Collins Avenue. — Katherine Kallergis

Miami: Investor buys an entire block in Wynwood for $41.5M

Thor Equities just paid $41.5 million for more than an entire block in Wynwood, a missing piece that gives it one square block and marks the largest deal ever in the red-hot Miami neighborhood, The Real Deal has learned.

New York-based Thor Equities, led by Joseph Sitt, bought 2800 Northwest Second Avenue, a 100,000-square-foot site running from Northwest 29th Street to Northwest 28th Street at Wynwood’s northern entrance. The corner site includes five existing buildings totaling 45,000 square feet, and also features 300 feet of frontage on Northwest Second Avenue and a 16,500-square-foot parking lot, a Thor spokesperson told TRD.

The property has development rights in excess of 600,000 square feet, and the plan for the site includes a mix of retail, residential, hotel and/or office uses, the spokesperson said.
The seller is Lehman Family Partnership Ltd., headed by Dennis J. Lehman, as trustee, according to public records. The entity had paid $200,000 for the parcels in 1995. The properties have been the 68-year home of Lehman Pipe & Plumbing Supply.

Bruce Koniver, principal of Koniver Stern Group brokered the deal, representing the seller. The firm was the only broker involved in the transaction. Koniver said he has known Lehman since 7th grade, and began marketing the property a few months ago.

“There was a hit list of potential buyers we reached out to, and fortunately enough Thor was on that list,” Koniver told TRD.

Thor’s latest purchase gives it the entire square block between Northwest Second Avenue and Northwest Third Avenue and between Northwest 28th Street and Northwest 29th Street. Its latest Wynwood purchase is adjacent to 2801 Northwest Third Avenue, a 105,000-square-foot, seven-parcel site that the real estate investment and development firm purchased from David Edelstein for $26.9 million in May.

The huge real estate investment firm, which has been expanding its holdings in Wynwood, also owns 2722 Northwest Second Avenue in Wynwood, as well as additional properties in the Design District and on Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

Wynwood, known for its artsy vibe, is a neighborhood transforming with new retail stores and restaurants. Among new retailers are Warby Parker, Illesteva and Marine Layer. New restaurants include Wynwood Diner and the Lunchbox. The area is also home to art galleries and one of the largest open-air street art installations in the world including Wynwood Walls, creative offices and showrooms.

The city of Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board recently approved a slate of changes to zoning and land use designations that would allow denser residential developments on roughly 205 acres in Wynwood. The recommendations must still be finalized by the city commission.

“The already burgeoning Wynwood Art District is primed for a mixed-use, residential rezoning that will spur further development, and accelerate its ongoing transformation from an underutilized industrial area into a true live-work-play community,” Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, said in a statement.


By Eric Glazer, Esq.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. About two weeks ago, I get a call early in the morning from the President of a condominium in Broward. He tells me that last night a unit owner unloaded 50 rounds of ammunition inside of his unit from his AR-15 assault rifle, his AK-47 assault rifle and his 9mm Glock handgun. The swat team removed him from the condo unit and thank god nobody was killed, even though bullet holes tore through the walls of his unit, into the neighboring units. Water pipes were hit and leaks were everywhere causing substantial damage.
Now you would think that if your neighbor fires 50 rounds of ammunition into the walls of his unit with various assault rifles, the next time you see him would be in the visitor’s wing in some penitentiary. But that didn’t happen here. As I write this blog, I’m trying to find out how this happened, BUT THE SHOOTER WAS BACK IN HIS CONDO IN ABOUT 48 HOURS.
No, that is not a misprint. You read it correctly. Back home in 48 hours. This caused other owners in the community to pack up their things and move into a hotel. Remember Ripley’s Believe it or Not? Tell me this isn’t better.
The condo President was equally as dumbfounded as I was, and asked if we could help get the owner removed from the unit. This wasn’t our firm’s first rodeo when it came to removing persons that the association thought was violent from their home. We immediately filed a lawsuit and an Emergency Motion for Injunctive Relief, requesting that the owner be removed from his home by a civil court judge. The motion was granted. The order was served by the same department that sent their swat team out just a few nights before.
In addition to several other similar cases, a few years ago we represented a condominium in South Beach that had an owner living there that used his dogs to terrorize the community, tazed people with a taser, beat someone with a fire extinguisher and otherwise caused havoc and fear among the residents. My star witness was the wife of an Assistant United States Attorney who lived at the property. The trial judge removed this guy from his home as well. On appeal, the defendant’s attorney argued that a court does not have the authority to remove someone from their home. I’ll never forget one of the Appellate Judges stating at oral argument that a judge’s first responsibility is to “preserve the peace” and that the only way to preserve the peace in this community was to remove his client from his unit. The decision of the trial court was affirmed.
It doesn’t end there though. About two months later the same guy was found in the trunk of a car on Long Island with a bullet hole in his head. Perhaps if the trial judge and appellate court did not remove him from the condo, the bullets would have been flying at the Florida condominium instead.

Colombia was the leading source of foreign real estate buyers in July

Juan Carlos Gomez, a Colombian developer, intends to break ground for a seven-story, 41-unit condominium in Bay Harbor Islands early next year.

Unit sizes at the Bijou Bay Harbor condominium would be 900 square feet to 2,000 square feet, and the prices start at $530 per square foot. The location in Bay Harbor Islands is near both Bal Harbour and Miami Beach.

Bijou Bay Harbor is the first South Florida condo project for Gonzalez, who runs Acierto Immobiliario, a development company in Colombia that does commercial and residential projects.
Gonzalez is working on the Bijou Bay Harbor development with architects Luis Revuelta and Charles Benson and designer Adriana Hoyos.

A U.S. affiliate of Gonzalez’s company paid $8.5 million in March for the site of Bijou Bay Harbor at 9521 East Bay Harbor Drive in Bay Harbor Islands, county property records show.

Colombians are looming larger in South Florida’s real estate market. In July, Colombia was the leading source of foreign buyers searching for properties on the website of the Miami Association of Realtors, replacing recession-burdened Brazil for the first time in 13 months.

Your Florida Condominium Board Member Electronic Voting and Communication Policy

The use of email and other forms of electronic communication in the operations of condominium associations continues to be a controversial and confusing topic in Florida. The Florida Statutes are significantly behind the times as it relates to technological advances and, therefore, do not provide any guidance around when, if ever, Board email communication and voting is allowed. Further, these issues have not been sufficiently litigated to have a clear understanding of what Florida courts consider legal behavior.

One the one hand, using no electronic communication in this day and age is completely unreasonable. On the other hand, if a Board chooses to conduct all business electronically, the unit owners are denied their right to be present during Board meetings, which violates the law and leads to unit owner distrust of the Board. Given this, all associations can do is comply with the spirit of the Florida condominium statutes (Chapter 718) and use good judgment when conducting association business via email or other electronic communication. In order to ensure all Board members act consistently, I recommend that each association draft and approve a Board Member Electronic Voting and Communication Policy.

Florida Statute Chapter 718.112(2)(c) is clear that all unit owners have the right to attend any meeting of the Board at which a quorum of the Board is present. This means that any gathering of a quorum of the Board, whether at the standard meeting location, in a Board member’s home, or at a local restaurant, is considered a Board meeting if association-related topics are being discussed. It is a common misconception that in order for a gathering of the Board to be considered an official meeting, the Board has to be voting on something. This is not the case.

There are two notable types of meetings that are not open to unit owners:

1. Meetings between the Board and the association’s attorney to discuss litigation and obtain legal advice
2. Board meetings held for the purpose of discussing personnel matters (e.g., employee issues)
The Statute also states that notice of Board meetings (including date, time and location) along with a meeting agenda must be posted conspicuously around the condominium property at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. This requirement also applies to the two types of meeting mentioned above that are not open to unit owners.

So, given the rules just discussed, what is a Board to do? My recommendation is to use electronic communication (e.g., email, group texting) but do so in a responsible and considerate way. Remember, Board meeting rules are established to ensure unit owners may remain up-to-date on association issues. Unit owners are only going to become concerned if they feel their rights are being violated and/ or if the Board is acting secretively or unethically. Given this, when considering a Board Member Electronic Voting and Communication Policy, the Board should worry  less about complying with the exact letter of the law and more about ensuring the Board is acting in a way that unit owners would consider appropriate.

NOTE: If a unit owner files a complaint against the association to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the DBPR finds the complaint warranted, the association may be fined pursuant to the Florida Administrative Code.


By Eric Glazer, Esq.   

Everyone knows that whether you live in a condominium or an HOA, your association has an obligation to provide the unit owners access to the association’s records.  What is an association to do however with the owner that won’t stop asking for access?  Week after week, month after month, year after year, the requests don’t stop coming in.  Is there anything an association can do?

Both the Florida Condominium Act and the Florida Homeowner Association Act provide that:
The association may adopt reasonable rules regarding the frequency, time, location, notice, and manner of record inspections and copying.
The question is what is a “reasonable rule?”
In Wanda DiPaola Stephen Rinko General Partnership v. Beach Terrace Association, Inc. Case No. 2007-02-2785, the Petitioners made 6 records requests over a five month period.  The association had a rule in place that required the owners to submit a written request stating the purpose of the inspection and provided that no more than two requests to inspect the records would be allowed in a six month period.   The arbitrator made it clear that there is nothing in the statutes that prohibits an owner from making repeated requests for access to records.  Moreover, although the statute does authorize the association to adopt reasonable rules regarding the frequency of record requests, the restrictions cannot substantially erode or eliminate a unit owner’s right of access.  Whether a rule is reasonable depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case.   In the end, the arbitrator held that the rules in this case place substantial and unacceptable restrictions on a unit owner’s right of access to official records.  The arbitrator also held that an association cannot refuse access to official records on the ground that access was previously provided.

Two years later, in Rosado v. Fountains of Tamarac Condominium Association, Inc. Case No. 10-03-1036, the Board adopted a new rule limiting review of records to five files for each scheduled records inspection.  Files were arranged by topic.  The association was self managed and the records were stored off site.  Records inspections were only allowed every Tuesday morning during normal business hours.  In this case, the arbitrator opined that the association could make things easier on itself by storing the records electronically, but on the other hand, some records need to be viewed in its original paper format, like election records.  In this case, the arbitrator held that since the association has only 32 units, the records should be able to be inspected in a two hour period, if they are limited to five or fewer topics.  Therefore, this rule does not substantially erode or eliminate a right to access and is therefore reasonable.
Two years later, in Nevin v. Tennis Club McLoughlin Condominium Association, Inc. Case No. 12-00-3369, the Petitioner made 10 separate voluminous records requests over a three month period. On the date of the very first records request, the Association amended the rules and regulations to limit unit owner requests for association records to “one item per month.”  Therefore, the association did not comply with all of her requests within five days as normally required under the statute.  The arbitrator held that the rule limiting access to “one item per month” places substantial and unacceptable restrictions on a unit owner’s right to official records and the association has created an unreasonable restriction on her right of access.  In fact, the rule virtually negates the Petitioner’s right of access to the records. 
Before your Board attempts to pass a rule limiting access to records, you may want to get some legal advice, because if the rule is found to be too restrictive, it could cost the association a lot of money.  In the Nevin case, the arbitrator awarded the unit owner $5,000.00 in damages.  In addition, an association can be required to reimburse the owners all of his or her attorney’s fees and costs.
So tell me……does your community allow you reasonable access to the association’s records?

Paris Theater in South Beach hits market for $23 million

The historic Paris Theater in Miami Beach — designed in 1935 by Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser — is on the market for $23 million.
The 1,200-seat entertainment hall, at 550 Washington Ave., operated as a cinema called the Variety Theatre from the 1940s through the 1960s and was later repurposed by various owners into an adult movie house, a nightclub, and a photography and film studio
It it located in an area of South Beach that may be due for a revival.
Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive have far outstripped Washington Avenue in attracting high-profile tenants and high rents. Properties on in-demand Lincoln Road have traded for $6,500 per square foot this summer. A Victoria’s Secret on Collins Avenue sold for $1,885 per square foot in the spring.
At the Paris, owner Eugene Rodriguez is asking $895 per square foot for the four-story building, which is listed in Miami Beach’s historic properties database. He bought the 25,589-square-foot structure in 1992 for less than $1 million and transformed it into a studio for the film and photo industry.
Rodriguez may be cashing out at the right time. Miami Beach city leaders are considering a series of proposals that advocates say will help revitalize the area. Those include raising height limits for buildings and lowering parking requirements .
“They’re redoing the whole neighborhood right now,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s a good time for the property to move on to someone else.”
Alejandro D’Alba of the brokerage Marcus & Millichap, which is handling the sale, said the prospect of a redeveloped Miami Beach Convention Center has jumpstarted interest in the area around the theater.
“Washington Avenue is a bargain,” D’Alba said. “It’s one of the last major ‘value’ streets left in South Beach.”
The Paris was recently renovated and D’Alba said prospective buyers will most likely use it as an entertainment or nightlife venue.
The Paris was a hot location in the ’90s when Miami’s fashion and film industries were riding high. Madonna, U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers shot album covers and music videos there. As those businesses died down, Rodriguez rented out the space for events and parties. On the weekends, it became a go-to nightspot called Club Bamboo.
When Rodriguez took over the building, it had been empty for several years. Before that, it was used as a nightclub called the Paris Moderne and as a blue movie house. A photo from 1981 shows the Paris’ marquee offering two films, one with a female cast and another all male.
Said Rodriguez: “Times change.”

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By Eric Glazer, Esq.

It’s time to tell the members of the association all about the association’s finances, like it or not.  Both the Florida condominium and homeowner statutes mandate the following:

Within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year, or annually on a date provided in the bylaws, the association shall prepare and complete, or contract for the preparation and completion of, a financial report for the preceding fiscal year. Within 21 days after the final financial report is completed but not later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year or date as provided in the bylaws, the association shall mail to each unit owner or hand deliver to each unit owner, a copy of the financial report or a notice that a copy of the financial report will be mailed or hand delivered to the unit owner, without charge, upon receipt of a written request from the unit owner.

In English…most associations end their fiscal year on December 31st.  So, by April 1st the association must have at least contracted for the preparation of the year end financial report.  By May 1st, the association can mail the report to all owners or mail them a notice that they can get a free copy of the report by asking for it in writing.
The type of financial report to be prepared by the association varies and depends upon the association's budget.  The higher the amount of the budget, the more detailed the type of financial report to be prepared.  For example:
An association with total annual revenues of $150,000 or more, but less than $300,000, shall prepare compiled financial statements. This is basically a glorified disclaimer by the accounting firm as to the accuracy of the finances as presented to the CPA by management or the Board.
An association with total annual revenues of at least $300,000, but less than $500,000, shall prepare reviewed financial statements In a review report, the CPA expresses a “limited assurance” — not an opinion — of the reasonableness of the financial statements.
An association with total annual revenues of $500,000 or more shall prepare AUDITED financial statements. A financial audit provides the highest level of financial statement assurance.  An audit normally takes considerably more time than either a compilation or a review.
An association with total annual revenues of less than $150,000 and An association that operates fewer than 50 units in a condominium and 50 parcels in an H.O.A.  regardless of the association's annual revenues, shall also prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures.

Suppose a Board wants to prepare a financial report that gives the owners more detail than what they are required to receive?  For example, the Board wants to provide an audit when only a compilation is required.  In a condo - An association may prepare, without a meeting of or approval by the unit owners: a more detailed year end financial report than what is required by law.  In an HOA – 20% of the owners can petition the Board for a greater report, a meeting must then be held within 30 days, and then upon approval of a majority of the voting interests of all parcel members, amend the budget or pass a special assessment to pay for the increased financial report.

Suppose however that the Board wants to provide the owners with a less detailed financial report than the owners are entitled to by law? For example, the Board doesn't want to spend money on an audit and only wants to provide a compilation?  In a condo and an HOA ------only If approved by a majority of the voting interests present at a properly called meeting of the association,  an association may prepare a less detailed financial statement than what is required by law.   This can only be done for three years in a row and the vote must be taken within that fiscal year.  So, if you didn’t vote to waive the audit for 2014, it’s now too late to vote.
In a condominium, failure to comply with the year end financial reporting requirements can subject the association to monetary penalties.  The Division will certainly enforce compliance with the statute.  In an HOA, if the association doesn’t prepare the report, nothing happens unless a unit owner winds up filing suit.

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Condominium / Cooperative - English version

Entire block of Lincoln Road sells for $370M to Spanish billionaire

In second biggest sale ever in Miami-Dade, partnership led by Michael Comras and Jonathan Fryd unload properties they bought for $12M in 1999 

In one of the largest real estate deals in Miami-Dade history, an entire block of Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road has traded hands for $370 million. And the buyer is the world’s fourth richest person, a Spanish fashion billionaire whose empire includes Zara, The Real Deal has learned.
A partnership led by local commercial real estate investors and developers Michael Comras and Jonathan Fryd sold the properties that run from 1001 Lincoln Road through 1035 Lincoln Road, now home to newly built stores for Gap, Intermix, Athleta, Apple and the future location for Nike – which will be built at the former site of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma. The properties total about 48,000 square feet of land and 75,000 square feet of buildings.
Michael Comras
“It’s definitely a blockbuster sale,” Comras told TRD. “It’s the biggest thing I have ever been involved in. It’s the culmination of so many years of planning and working together with Jonathan and we put together an amazing asset, a perfectly curated asset.”
The investors assembled the properties in 1999, paying a total of about $12 million. They then started to lease space to national retailers, helping to spearhead the transformation of the pedestrian promenade, where rents have now skyrocketed to about $300 per square foot.
The sale, which was recorded Wednesday and hit property records late Thursday, is to Playa Retail Investments, with an address at 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Suite 201, according to property records. The firm’s managers include Jose Arnau Sierra, Jaime Carro Merchan, and Roberto Cibeira Moreiras, public records show.
Yet a search of the address links to various entities titled Ponte Gadea, owned by Amancio Ortega, a Spaniard who heads a fashion empire whose most well-known brand is Zara.
armanio ortega
Amancio Ortega
Forbes currently ranks the 79-year-old self-made billionaire as the world’s fourth richest person, pegging his wealth at $70.2 billion.
In 2012, Forbes wrote that he “seems to be using more of his free time to invest in real estate. He has pulled money from Spanish investment funds and poured it into buildings through his Ponte Gadea real estate investment firm,” whose holdings include the Torre Picasso, a 43-story skyscraper in Madrid.
Comras could not confirm the buyer, citing a confidentiality agreement.
At $370 million, the deal tops the largest sale previously on Lincoln Road, a six-property portfolio that traded last year for $342 million. The only commercial site to fetch a higher price was the $375 million sale of a 50 percent stake in Fontainebleau Miami Beach seven years ago.
“It’s a project that we started 16 years ago, and Jonathan and I felt that we had really created one of the most incredible retail blocks on a High Street around the world, with a selection of retailers second to none, and once we had the proper leases and created the value, it made sense to sell the asset,” Comras told TRD.
Lincoln Road is an amazing street, and Miami Beach is an amazing city, and it’s a world class destination,” he added. “It’s just an incredible asset and I’m happy to be part of it.”