The Real Deal Miami

Mansions at Acqualina unit owner sues over alleged defects, developer fires back

Owner changed locks, says unit is "worthless," seeking damages in the seven-figure range

October 18, 2016 09:45AM
By Katherine Kallergis

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Rendering of the Mansions at Acqualina (Credit: Neoscape) and Jules Trump

Rendering of the Mansions at Acqualina (Credit: Neoscape) and Jules Trump

A Russian family that purchased a multimillion-dollar unit at the recently completed Mansions at Acqualina is now suing the Trump Group and its general contractor, Coastal Construction, over alleged defects and damages.

And developer Jules Trump is firing back, calling the lawsuit a hold-up job and a “twisted way of extorting” him, Trump told The Real Deal

Alexey and Inna Knyshova and their two children are suing LPLA Partners, Coastal and the condo association, alleging defects caused harmful mold and “volatile organic compounds” in their Mansions condo, unit 1701.

The Trump Group completed Mansions, a 47-story tower at 17749 Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach, last year.

The Knyshovas paid $7 million for unit 1701 in August 2015, TRD previously reported. Alexey Knyshova, referred to in the lawsuit as “a successful Russian businessman” is a former member of the State Duma, a legislative body in the Russian Federation. He was reportedly accused of profiting from several companies he owned while in office, and resigned from his post in 2012.

For the Knyshova family, the purchase was a trade up from an older Acqualina unit they sold late last year for $3.22 million. Now, they’re calling the Mansions unit “worthless” and are seeking damages in the seven-figure range, Lana Naghshineh, an attorney for the Knyshova family, told TRD.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court on Monday, alleges “improper construction of the Family Apartment rendered it uninhabitable, unfit for its particular purpose, and unmerchantable.”

According to the complaint, the closing was delayed three months until August 2015 and the family moved in in January. Shortly after, the unit was allegedly damaged due to water coming into their children’s bedroom from the southwest facing window, damage that the suit says led to health issues for the family.

In mid-January, a malfunctioning fire sprinkler in the master bathroom led to “foul-smelling black water gushing into the Family Apartment at a rapid rate,” the suit says.

“Neither the Developer, the Association, nor the Property Manager took any action to correct or ameliorate the water intrusion coming from the South West street-facing window for the next eight (8) months,” the lawsuit states, adding later on that rain from Hurricane Matthew “exacerbated the defective conditions and water intrusion and damage.”

Trump, of no relation to the presidential candidate, told TRD on Monday that the owner “denied us access and has continued to deny us access until 17 days ago.” He said the owner changed the keys so that the property manager could not enter.

“We’ve been ready to fix [it] since January,” he saidadding that since he met with Knyshova more than two weeks ago they’ve been working to repair what’s needed. “He’s been super friendly to me and his bodyguard has been super friendly to me.”

The lawsuit shows otherwise, going so far as to claim that the developer “continues to market and sell units with defective windows, defective sliding glass doors, and defective surrounding construction, all of which permit water intrusion into the units at the Mansions at Acqualina.”

Coastal Vice Chairman Dan Whiteman said in a statement to TRD that the construction firm is working with the developer and unit owner “to remedy the issues and to determine the exact cause of the damage.”

The family is not currently living in the unit, but the property manager said they use the building’s amenities, including hosting a birthday party for one of their daughters within the last week.

Naghshineh said she will aggressively pursue the case in court on behalf of Knyshova.

“We won’t stop until Mr. Knyshova is compensated for his damages and the developer issues a formal apology,” she told TRD.

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