The Real Deal Miami

Margulies’ lawsuit challenging Miami Worldcenter dismissed

Suit had challenged the multi-year tax-rebate package approved by the city

September 11, 2015 07:22PM
By Ina Cordle

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Rendering of Miami Worldcenter

Rendering of Miami Worldcenter

A lawsuit filed against the city of Miami and the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, challenging Miami Worldcenter’s tax incentives, was dismissed by a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge on Friday afternoon, The Real Deal has learned.

Judge John Schlesinger dismissed the suit filed by developer Martin Margulies, saying that Margulies “lacks standing” and that “no cause of action is stated under the Citizens’ Bill of Rights.” The motion to dismiss “is granted with prejudice”  meaning it cannot be brought again “as leave to amend would be futile,” the judge wrote by hand. Margulies lives in Key Biscayne, not the city of Miami.

“My litigation colleague Alan Dimond successfully proved to the court that a person who doesn’t live in the city of Miami doesn’t have the legal standing to object to something that took place in the City of Miami,” Greenberg Traurig land use attorney Ryan Bailine, who represents Miami Worldcenter in its development, said in a statement. “This eliminates a temporary roadblock and allows the developers to continue moving forward with their plans to commence construction and revitalize a vital urban infill area in the city of Miami.”

Margulies had filed suit earlier this year against the city of Miami and the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, challenging the tax incentive package that had been approved by Miami commissioners for the massive mixed-us project.

In late December 2014, Miami Worldcenter’s developers won as much as $88 million in tax rebates over 12 years. In exchange, the developers agreed to pay higher wages and ensure that their contractors and subcontractors hire up to one-third of their unskilled workers from Overtown and then from around Miami and the county.

In June, two other suits against Miami Worldcenter also were dismissed. The first was filed in June 2014 on behalf of Grand Central and the Omni/Park West Redevelopment Association and surrounded street closures. The second suit, filed in December, alleged that the entitlement package awarded to the project by the city of Miami, asking the developers to hire local workers in exchange for zoning exemptions and land use rights, had violated several state laws. Grand Central was a tenant on land owned by Miami Worldcenter, and the developers had tried to evict the club before over an alleged violation of its lease.

Despite all the litigation, city commissioners approved the incentive package a second time earlier this year, and Worldcenter plans to break ground on its first phase later this year. Last week, Miami Worldcenter celebrated the demolition of the last building standing on its site.

Scheduled for completion in 2018, Miami Worldcenter will include a 500-unit Paramount Miami Worldcenter condo tower constructed atop the Mall at Miami Worldcenter, a 765,000 square-foot retail and entertainment center anchored by Macy’s and Bloomingdales which will be developed by Forbes and Taubman. The mixed-use project also will include an 1,800-room Marriott Marquis hotel and convention center, plus a tower by Orlando-based developer ZOM with 429 luxury rental apartments.

Miami Worldcenter Associates, headed by Art Falcone and Nitin Motwani, is developing the 27-acre project. Daniel Kodsi is a partner for the Paramount Miami Worldcenter, and Miami-based MDM group is developing the project’s Marriot Marquis hotel.