The Real Deal Miami

Parkway and the Related Group want 2015 property tax assessments canceled and redone

Lawsuits heat up between major developers and Miami-Dade property appraiser

July 18, 2016 06:00PM
By Francisco Alvarado

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Left, Courvoisier Centre and a rendering of Auberge Residences & Spa Miami (Inset, from left, James Heistand and Jorge Perez)

UPDATED July 19, 1:25 p.m.: Parkway Properties and the Related Group want Miami-Dade property tax appraiser Pedro Garcia to redo their 2015 property tax bills. In separate lawsuits filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Orlando-based Parkway and Miami-based Related claim Garcia used an “arbitrary” assessment that was much higher compared to other properties similar to theirs.

In addition to Garcia, the complaints also name Miami-Dade tax collector Marcus Saiz de la Mora and Florida Department of Revenue Executive Director Leon Biegalski as defendants.

Parkway is demanding the courts force Garcia to cancel the 2015 tax bill for the Courvoisier Centre, a class A office complex at 501 and 605 Brickell Key Drive and issue a new one. The aggregated 2015 assessment value of the two buildings equates to $123.7 million, according to the Parkway complaint.

Related wants to void the $31.2 million Garcia assessed last year for its redevelopment site at 1400 Biscayne Boulevard, where the company plans to build Auberge Residences & Spa Miami, a 60-story, 363-unit residential tower.

The lawsuits provide a glimpse into the pitched legal battles between major developers and property owners versus Garcia, who between May and June filed separate complaints seeking to undo 2014 tax assessments for three signature properties in Miami-Dade County that the property appraiser claims were too low.

Garcia sued the developers of the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Sunny Isles Beach, alleging their successful appeal of his 2014 property assessment violated state law because it reduced their tax bill by more than 60 percent. He also sued Sunny Isles Property Ventures, a partnership between Fortune International Group and Chateau Group, for winning a similar reduction in 2014.

Garcia also filed a legal challenge against 132 unit owners at the Setai Miami Beach who received a combined $163.7 million in 2014 property tax reductions.

Thomas Flanagan, the attorney representing Parkway and Related, and a spokesman for Garcia declined comment. 

In email statement to The Real Deal, Related Vice President and General Counsel Betsy McCoy said Garcia got it wrong at 1400 Biscayne Boulevard. “We dispute the county’s tax assessment value of the property,” McCoy said. “We are exercising our statutory and constitutional rights to challenge the county’s valuation.”

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Swire sued, as owner of Courvoisier Centre. Swire developed the property, but Parkway Properties bought it in 2014.