Ritz developers win suit alleging they blocked sale of neighbor to preserve view

Miami /
Sep.September 01, 2015 12:00 PM

Developers Edgardo Defortuna, Manuel Grosskopf and their companies won a legal fight with the condominium association at the Tropicana building in Sunny Isles, which had charged the developers with blocking a redevelopment of the nine-story Tropicana to preserve the oceanfront view at Ritz-Carlton Residences, Sunny Isles Beach, a 52-story condominium the developers are building next door.

Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Rosa I. Rodriguez granted a motion for summary judgment by Defortuna, Grosskopf and their companies on Monday, and the judge denied a motion for partial summary judgment by the Tropicana condominium association.

“The plaintiffs prevailed on all of their claims against the association,” Miami attorney John K. Shubin, who represents the developers, told The Real Deal in an email.

The Tropicana Condominium Association had sought $120 million of damages from the defendants. Defortuna is president of Fortune International Realty. Grosskopf runs the real estate development firm Chateau Group.  

In January, the buyers of five Tropicana units filed suit against the Tropicana Condominium Association, contending that its declaration of condominium requires 100 percent voter approval to dissolve the association, and that the board of directors invalidly adopted two amendments dropping the threshold below 100 percent. 

In March, the Tropicana Condominium Association fired back, alleging in its own lawsuit that Defortuna and Grosskopf arranged for employees and other straw buyers to purchase the five Tropicana units for a total of $1.17 million in a “fraudulent scheme” to block proposals to dissolve the condominium ownership of the building and sell it outright.

The association stated in its lawsuit that many Tropicana condo owners, including a large number or retirees, believe the combined sales of their individual units would be less than the price a developer would pay in a bulk purchase of the Tropicana units and their oceanfront location at 15645 Collins Avenue.

Various developers have made offers up to $100 million for the property, according to the condominium association’s suit. Chateau Group, run by Grosskopf, offered less than $50 million for the Tropicana property, and the bid was rejected, Glenn Waldman, an attorney for the association, told TRD in March.  

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