The Real Deal Miami

Privé starts sales amid litigation with neighbors

Developers host promotional events this week while suit aims to stop condo project
Model of Privé development at project sales center (Inset: Gary Cohen)

Model of Privé development at project sales center (Inset: Gary Cohen)

The developers of Privé in Aventura are moving forward with an aggressive sales campaign while fighting a lawsuit from their neighbors, who never want to see the two-tower complex get built.

Hollywood Beach-based BH3 and developer Gary Cohen hosted a VIP dinner Tuesday night to mark the completion of the Privé sales center and promote the 160-unit condo project. BH3 and an affiliate company of Cohen, whose family was instrumental in planning and building out much of Williams Island, are partnering on the development. They flew in brokers and media members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico for the dinner.

Attendees included prominent designer Steven G., who is handling interior work at Privé.

A larger event for brokers at the 5500 Island Estates Drive development site followed Wednesday night.

The developers scrambled to complete construction of the sales center, including a large model of the proposed development, in time for the events.

“We wanted to give people a sneak peek,” BH3’s Daniel Lebensohn told The Real Deal during Tuesday’s dinner. “We believe exclusive events with a limited number of guests are the best route for the project. Oversized, wild parties won’t do the project justice.”

With limited marketing before this week, the developers secured six-figure reservations for about 40 percent of the units at the twin 16-story towers, according to Lebensohn. They claim 10 units have been reserved since Tuesday’s event. Early buyers come from more than 20 countries, joined by a smattering of domestic investors.

“Now we’re going full bore with our marketing campaign,” he said. Potential buyers can visit the completed sales center, which includes model kitchens and bathrooms.

Condo prices range from $2 million to more than $10 million.

But if the residents of Island Estates get their wish, Privé would not be developed as currently planned.

Attorney Susan Rafanello, who represents the Island Estates Homeowners Association, sent a letter to the City of Aventura on Tuesday objecting to the Privé development team’s permit application. Rafanello argues that the developers would have to construct a sidewalk on property they do not currently own for the project to be approved by the city.

In a statement sent to The Real Deal, Rafanello singles out Cohen, who developed Island Estates, for launching a sales campaign without first resolving the sidewalk dispute.

Cohen “ignores the requirements of the city and rights of the Island Estates residents,” Rafanello said. “The city specifically demanded that Cohen address how he can provide a sidewalk on Island Estates, a condition to him building condominiums on the North Island.”

Miami attorney John Shubin, who represents the Privé developers, told The Real Deal that portions of the 8.1-acre project site sold to the partnership included easements that give it the right to construct the sidewalk there.

“We maintain that the use of the property as requested in our permit is consistent with both the letter and the spirit of these easements.”

A lawsuit filed by Island Estates in November is pending in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. That dispute centers on the project’s overall development rights, which the BH3 and Cohen partnership claim predate the 1995 incorporation of Aventura. A separate lawsuit initiated by the Williams Island Property Owners Association, which also challenges the development rights for Privé, is also pending.

A hearing on a motion to dismiss in the Island Estates lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday, according to court records. Another hearing in the case is slated for Feb. 18.