In the latest bombshell in the now-ended competition for a prime downtown development site, judges ruled Monday that Miami Dade College must pay Nader+Museu’s attorneys’ fees tied to a lawsuit about a bid protest bond.
The Third District Court of Appeal judges issued an order granting Gary Nader’s group’s request that the college pay the attorneys’ fees. The judges asked that the trial court set the amount.
At the same time, the appellate judges denied Miami Dade College’s motion requesting that Nader pay the college’s appellate attorneys fees.
The legal fees were linked to a lawsuit the college filed and lost, to force payment of a $2.3 million bond tied to the bid protest.
“They lost their litigation and they lost their request for attorneys’ fees and the judge granted Nader’s request for attorneys’ fees,” Bill Riley, a partner with GrayRobinson who represents Nader+Museu, told The Real Deal. “It was a really good victory.”
Riley said he did not yet know the amount Nader’s team had incurred in attorneys’ fees. “What we have to do now is pull all of our bills and submit those to the court for them to review,” Riley said.
A request for comment from Miami Dade College was not immediately returned.
Following months of a contentious bidding process marred by litigation from Nader’s team, Miami Dade College’s Board of Trustees last week put an end to the competition to develop 520 Biscayne Boulevard in a public/private partnership.
“Due to several risks associated with the project, many the direct result of the hostile conduct of a single proposer, the board decided to move in a different direction and terminate this process,” the college said in a statement last Monday, referring to Gary Nader and his team. The college said it plans to “evaluate its options” for redeveloping the site in the future.
Negotiations with the top-rated Related Group had been on hold for several weeks, first as litigation played out, then awaiting a Board of Trustees’ decision to move forward.
This summer, Nader and his team filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court demanding access to public records related to the bidding process. Nader+Museu also had filed a bid protest as well as a lawsuit related to the $2.3 million bond required for the bid protest. Amid the litigation, the entire bidding process had halted and was placed on hold.
While Miami Dade College had not yet awarded a contract in the months-long process to develop the 2.6-acre site at 520 Biscayne Boulevard into a mixed-use project in a public-private partnership, its evaluation committee had ranked the Related Group as the top bidder. Nader+Museu was ranked second.
Riley had told TRD last week that Nader’s team has spent more than $4 million so far on the proposal, and refuted any allegation that Nader was hostile. “There was hostile behavior, and all the hostile behavior came from Related and the college’s outside counsel,” he said. “Accusations to the contrary are unfounded.”
Related has not responded to requests for comment on the college’s decision, and Related Vice President Jon Paul Perez declined to comment when asked at TRD South Florida’s Showcase & Forum last Thursday.
Related’s proposal included a 75-story condominium tower, a 39-story office tower, a 100-room hotel and private club. Nader+Museu’s proposal included two 50-story residential towers, a hotel, restaurant and culinary market.
The college had been soliciting a developer to enter into a public/private partnership for the Biscayne Boulevard site, which is currently used as a surface parking area at the college’s Wolfson Campus. The proposals each had to include a cultural center with a 1,600-seat performing arts theater, a conference center that can house 3,000 people, a museum measuring at least 100,000 square feet, and parking.
Miami Dade College had received an unsolicited proposal for the Nader Latin American Art Museum last year from Nader’s group, which prompted the college to put out bid packages. Proposals were due in January. Gregg Covin and Chad Oppenheim; Nader, Roberto Rocha and FR-EE Architects; Jorge Brugo; and Jorge Perez’s Related Group had all gone head-to-head for a mixed-use project at the site. Following a Miami Dade College evaluation committee meeting in July, the college issued “a notice of intended decision” to recommend it negotiate a contract with Related.