The Real Deal Miami

Brickell developer: take my parcel, but not forever

By Erik Bojnansky | December 19, 2008 11:57AM

A Brickell developer said he still intends to build on a parcel he is donating to the city of Miami as a park once market conditions improve.

For months, Tibor Hollo has been negotiating with Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s District 2 office and city of Miami legal staff to lease his property at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive for $2 a year for the next two to three years. Sarnoff says the 2.5-acre waterfront parcel is worth between $25 and $40 million.

“It is a construction site,” Hollo said. “Our plans are ready. We just don’t want to move on the project [in this market].”

Part of the deal for Hollo to temporarily donate his land is that the time limit on his special major use permit (MUSP) is stopped while it’s a park. Hollo says the city approved his permit for a pair of 60-story condominium towers, called Villa Maria, at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive. Developers who obtain a special permit usually have only one year to get a building permit before it expires, unless the city agrees to extend the time.

In two to three years, Hollo said he plans to invest $200 million to construct 787 residential units, which will be sold for between $800,000 and $2 million. Hollo purchased the high intensity mixed use zoned property for $15.5 million for that purpose in October 2000, according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office.

As part of an effort to prevent vacant properties in his district from becoming unmaintained eyesores, Sarnoff said he approached Hollo about letting it become a temporary park. Once negotiations are completed, the district will use its funds to place grass and playground equipment onto Hollo’s parcel, Sarnoff said. Hollo promised to pitch in with the effort. “We will help the city,” Hollo said.

Not everyone is thrilled with the deal made with Hollo. Bob Powers, president of the Palm Grove Neighborhood Association, said someone who spends millions of dollars on a property “should maintain it” without special favors from the taxpayers.

Nancy Liebman, a former Miami Beach commissioner now affiliated with the MiMo Coalition, predicted a major popular backlash when Hollo decides to rip out a playground to build a condominium. “The people will be down here, screaming,” she said.