Privé developers file another lawsuit against Williams Island homeowners

Privé construction and from left: BH3's Charlie Phelan, Greg Freedman and Daniel Lebensohn and Gary Cohen
Privé construction and from left: BH3's Charlie Phelan, Greg Freedman and Daniel Lebensohn and Gary Cohen

UPDATED Oct. 3, 2:30 p.m.: As Privé at Island Estates in Aventura inches closer to completion, the litigation war surrounding the contentious condo project is once again intensifying.

Last month, developers BH3 and Gary Cohen sued 11 Williams Island homeowners, alleging they have violated a 34-year-old settlement agreement prohibiting them from objecting to any new projects on the island.

The new lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, is the latest in a string of complaints between the developers and homeowners who have been trying to stop Privé from being built. The developers are seeking more than $10 million in damages.

Daniel Lebensohn, a BH3 principal, told The Real Deal he cannot comment on the specifics of the latest suit. However, he said BH3 welcomes a resolution with the Williams Island homeowners.

“The buildings are up and topped off so there is no reason to perpetuate this fight which they commenced,” Lebensohn said. “Our future residents are going to be part of the community, we are part of the community and we are happy to make this all go away.”

Representatives for the Williams Island homeowners did not respond to two email requests for comment.

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The 11 homeowners who are being sued include Rod White, Wilma Felder, Sydney Faye-Davis and Jonathan Fels.

According to the recent lawsuit, Cohen, who owns the land on the north island where Privé is rising, entered into a settlement agreement with the Williams Island Property Owners Association on August 3, 1982, stipulating that all island residents could not object to any project on the two islands. The lawsuit claims the agreement bars any homeowner challenges that would prevent the 160-unit Privé from being built.

Furthermore, Cohen  as a landowner abided by the agreement when he did not object to the development of the towers on Williams Island, the suit says.

Over the last two years, opposing residents sued BH3 and Cohen to stop the Privé project. They alleged the developers only have the right to build single-family homes, and stalled construction from starting last year with a lawsuit over sidewalks, building permits and development rights.

In December, a $225 million lawsuit filed by the developers against specific property owners was dismissed. Two months later, the developers filed another, separate class action lawsuit targeting all 2,000 residents of Williams Island and the property association. On May 26, Circuit Court Judge Jerald Bagley denied the developers’ motion to certify a counter-defendant class.

Residences in the 16-story project range in price from $2.1 million for a one-bedroom unit to $11.4 million for a 10,000-square-foot penthouse with a rooftop swimming pool, private garage and a 7,000-square-foot deck. Amenities include a 10,000-square-foot gym and spa in each tower, private dining, a poolside cafe, wine and cigar rooms, tennis courts, swimming pools, a marina and private pier, a nature trail, beach and jogging path.