Real estate powerhouse Louise Sunshine, who owns two penthouse units at the Grand Venetian Condominium in Miami Beach, has sued the condominium owners association for allegedly requiring her to pay an arbitrary $1 million fee to combine the two penthouses into one, The Real Deal has learned.
Sunshine, who owns the property through a trust — and listed the combined unit for sale in March — claimed in a suit filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court that the condo association initially approved her plan to combine penthouse units 2502 and 2503 in August 2013. Soon after their approval, she alleges, the condo association “wrongfully retracted their consent to the remodel.”
Sunshine also alleged that, in an October 2013 meeting of the association’s board of directors, the board informed her that she could proceed with a remodeling and combination of the penthouse units only if she paid “an unsubstantiated and arbitrary fee of $1 million,” later reduced to $500,000.
Her suit also alleges that the building management company at the Grand Venetian Condominium has interfered with her efforts to remodel and combine her penthouse units.
According to Sunshine’s suit, the position of the condo association’s board violates a clause in the declaration of condominium for the property at 10 Venetian Way in Miami Beach, which states that “nothing shall prevent the combining of units.”.
She alleges in her suit that the condo association committed extortion and fraud in demanding an arbitrary fee to combine the penthouses after retracting approval of the plan.
The two-story, 6,400-square-foot combined penthouse in the Grand Venetian is now listed for $11.75 million. Coldwell Banker’s Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg are marketing the six-bedroom, six-bathroom residence, which includes three outdoor terraces, a pneumatic elevator, bay views and marble floors.
Sunshine paid more than $4 million for both units in August 2013. She created the Sunshine Group, which later merged with New York-based Corcoran Group.
In her suit, Sunshine alleges that she already has “incurred significant expense related to the [planned] remodel in reliance on Grand Venetian’s prior consent.”
She is seeking damages against the defendants “for sums in excess of several million dollars, together with interest, costs and attorney’s fees,” according to her suit.
Attempts to reach Sunshine’s Miami attorney, John A. Moore, and the property manager of The Grand Venetian Condominium for comment on Friday were unsuccessful.
Another unit owner at the Grand Venetian, attorney Murray A. Felder, filed a separate suit against the building’s management company, FirstService Residential, in February, for negligent maintenance of the pool area and other parts of the property that resulted in a $2.5 million special assessment. The management company had said the suit was without merit.
“I’m a licensed lawyer in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania but I’m representing myself in this case,” Felder told TRD.