The Real Deal Miami

Legal battle gets messy at North Miami’s Jockey Club condo complex

Condo associations want to block Apeiron from ever being built

June 16, 2016 05:15PM
By Sean Stewart-Muniz

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A rendering of the two-tower Apeiron at the Jockey Club project in North Miami

A rendering of the two-tower Apeiron at the Jockey Club project in North Miami

UPDATED June 16 7:43 p.m.: It looks like the legal fight between developers and unit owners of an aging North Miami condo complex is starting to boil over.

This week, developers of the ultra-modern Apeiron project and the condo associations of the Jockey Club lobbed lawsuits at each other aimed at control of the condo complex’s common areas.

Apeiron Miami, led by Horst Schulze, Michael Bedner and Muayad Abbas, wants to build an ultra-modern condo and hotel complex on 13 acres of common grounds at the Jockey Club condo complex at 11111 Biscayne Boulevard, which it purchased for $3.25 million in 2014. Plans call for two 40-story towers with a total of 90 hotel rooms and 240 condos, with the residences receiving service from the hotel portion. As it stands now, the Jockey Club complex has three condo towers, two of which are 21-stories and one is 13-stories. They were built between 1971 and 1982 and house 411 units in total.

In March, the Apeiron team ran into trouble when the condo associations of two Jockey club towers — Jockey Club I and Jockey Club II — filed suit to try and stop the development, alleging Apeiron was trampling over a pair of binding agreements dating back to 1977 and 1995 that essentially blocked all further development at the club.

The situation became even messier when Jockey Club III pledged support for Apeiron, with the other two associations alleging their counterpart had been bought out by the developer to the tune of $10 million.

These most recent suits were filed in quick succession to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County.

On one end, the Jockey Club I and II associations are alleging that Apeiron is trying to wrest control of maintenance for the common areas, and that Jockey Club III has stopped making any contributions to the shared maintenance costs.

Glen Waldman of Heller Waldman, the plaintiff’s attorney, told The Real Deal that Apeiron’s strategy is to leverage control of the common areas to help gain county approvals for its project.

Waldman said that could lead to neglect for a number of necessary maintenance issues in the complex, because Apeiron wouldn’t want to fix something it is going to demolish in the future.

“On their best day, they won’t be shoveling the ground for one to two years,” he said. So Apeiron is basically saying “‘We’re not going to fix it, because eventually we’re gonna build here.”’

The suit the associations have filed is seeking damages and relief from Apeiron, which would legally prevent it from taking over management of the Jockey Club’s common areas, as well as requesting that Jockey Club III continue making its maintenance payments.

The point of view painted in Jockey Club III’s suit, however, is much different. It alleges that the Jockey Club’s maintenance has been severely mismanaged, with no official budget, work done without permits that has drawn notices of violation from the county, and no payroll records for employees.

Jockey Club III filed an emergency motion with the court to have a third-party receiver appointed for managing the common areas, though the judge has since ruled that the situation is not an emergency.

“We’re optimistic that we have clear legal standing to proceed with Apeiron at the Jockey Club, and we look forward to delivering a first-rate project that includes major property improvements that will benefit all Jockey Club residents,” Abbas, one of the Apeiron’s developers, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, current residents – many of whom support Apeiron – are now stuck paying the steep legal bills that their Condo boards have saddled them with by filing these lawsuits.”