Bal Harbour Shops’ expansion hits roadblock with split council vote

Renderings of upgrades to Bal Harbour Shops
Renderings of upgrades to Bal Harbour Shops

The Whitman family’s $400 million expansion of its Bal Harbour Shops has reportedly hit a major roadblock.

Village council members shot down a plan to sell the Whitman Bal Harbour Village Hall to make way for the expansion after a contentious 2-2 split vote.

The vote followed hours of debate among the developers, dozens of public commenters and the four council members, according to the Miami Herald.

Mayor Martin Packer and Assistant Mayor Patricia Cohen were the two nays, while council members Seth Salver and Gabriel Groisman voiced approvals. Councilman Jamie Staz, who works at Neiman Marcus, recused himself from the vote because his employer is a large tenant at the mall.

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Whitman Family Development, which owns the luxury mall, has previously said the land on which Village Hall sits is critical to its expansion plans. The family had agreed to build Bal Harbour a new village hall as part of the deal.

The vote follows a lawsuit filed by the mall‘s owners that claims Assistant Mayor Patricia Cohen, who cast a nay vote, has personal ties to competitors of Bal Harbour Shops.

Personal emails released as part of the litigation shows she corresponded with members of Turnberry Associates, owned by the Soffer family, who have a majority stake in Aventura Mall. Jackie Soffer is married to developer Craig Robins, whose shops in the Design District also compete with Bal Harbour Shops.

A spokesperson for Whitman told The Real Deal that the team is regrouping and is not abandoning its expansion plans. [Miami Herald]Sean Stewart-Muniz