Mexican investors add to West Grove portfolio with trolley garage

City of Miami planned to buy the building from the Astor Companies

Oct.October 06, 2016 11:15 AM

Trolley garage (Inset: Henry Torres, Astor Companies)

A group of Mexican investors that has been quietly assembling land in the West Grove is also behind the purchase of the trolley garage last week.

Records show the investment group uses names like RonPope Fortran LLC and RonPope Beltway LLC to assemble land. The investors are aggressively trying to expand their holdings, closing last week on the purchase of the abandoned trolley garage at 3320 Douglas Road in Coconut Grove.

Astor Companies sold the 21,659-square foot trolley garage to the group for $3.295 million, the Miami Herald first reported. The Miami City Commission, meanwhile, had other plans, and approved a measure allowing the city to buy the building for about $235,000 less with plans to convert it for the community.

Astor and the city did not sign a contract, but Astor said that with the new owner, the building will be used to display artwork. Torres could not be reached for comment.

Sources told TRD the LLCs are backed by Mexican investors. Oscar Alfonso, a Brickell-based attorney, manages all of the entities. Alfonso also could not be reached for comment.

Records filed this week show Financial Mechanics LLC purchased the trolley garage. The company is also controlled by Alfonso.

Andy Parrish, who sold the corner building at 3386 Douglas Road to RonPope Beltway LLC last year for $2 million, said the group owns commercial property in Mexico and likely has a long-term plan for Coconut Grove, partially because the properties the investors previously purchased are not producing income.

“The more they have, the more they’ll be able to change there,” Parrish said, referring to the West Grove.

Parrish, who has built a number of affordable homes in the neighborhood, said land prices there have skyrocketed. Investors and developers have purchased lots and run-down apartment buildings, driving prices up and people out.

But little development has come to fruition. Earlier this year, Pinnacle Housing Group opened Gibson Plaza, a senior housing and market-rate complex on Grand Avenue.

A handful of development sites have also hit the market.

“Prices just got so extreme. We bought our first lot for $2,500 in 1994,” he told TRD. In 2008, a similarly sized lot was priced up to $250,000, he said.

In June, 3350 Grand Island LLC, an entity controlled by Alfonso, paid $425,000 for a 4,500-square-foot lot on Grand Avenue. That breaks down about $94 a foot. The property used to house a neighborhood school that collapsed, Parrish said.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the Mexican group’s properties in the West Grove:

  • 3386 Douglas Road | Acquired in 2015 for $2M | Seller: Andy Parrish
  • 3600 Grand Avenue | Acquired in 2014 for $1M | Seller: Peter Gardner
  • 3350 Southwest 37th Avenue | Acquired in for June for $425K | Seller: Mette Tommerup

Without heavy subsidies like the tax credits that financed Gibson Plaza, Parrish said “Grand Avenue, unfortunately, is not going to be for the folks who live in the West Grove.”

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