The North Carillon Beach Condominium Association has filed a new lawsuit against the building’s owner Z Capital Partners for alleged fraud and mismanagement, following the federal bankruptcy court in New York’s decision to reopen the project’s Chapter 11 case.
The suit is the latest in ongoing litigation against Z Capital Partners by the project’s condo associations, seeking more than $100 million in damages.
In August, the North Carillon Beach condo association filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court in New York asking the court to reopen the bankruptcy case, and sought unspecified damages for Z Capital’s alleged unlawful exploitation of the association and unit owners. It alleged that Z Capital fraudulently induced the association and unit owners to support its purchase of the oceanfront complex so it could gain control of the property and use its experience in asset stripping, cost cutting and restructuring for its own benefit.
The new suit, filed in federal bankruptcy court in New York, alleges unlawful conduct including “Z Capital’s fraudulent, unconscionable, unfair and deceptive inducement of the unit owners and the associations … through false e-mails and other means, to withdraw their objections to, and to support, Z Capital’s purchase of the hotel lot out of bankruptcy.”
The suit further alleges that Z Capital breached “virtually all of the binding promises it made regarding how [the Carillon] would be managed and operated.”
Z Capital, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Real Deal.
In January 2015, Z Capital bought the property at 6801 Collins Avenue, formerly called Canyon Ranch, out of bankruptcy court. The project’s condominium associations had originally opposed the bankruptcy auction results and had filed a lawsuit against the bankruptcy debtor.
The Carillon, whose original hotel dates back to 1958, now includes two condo towers completed in 2008: the South Tower and North Tower, as well as the Central Tower, which has both residential units and hotel suites. Z Capital owns nearly all the project’s amenities and common areas.
Since Z Capital’s purchase, the condo associations of the Central and South towers have filed separate suits against Z Capital. In May, condo owners at the Central Tower filed a suit seeking more than $100 million in damages, alleging that the private equity firm is artificially driving down property values to acquire units at below-market prices, and is assessing maintenance fees while denying unit owners access to building amenities and failing to allow them to see records.
In late March, the South Carillon Beach Condominium Association, made up of condo owners at the South Tower of the Carillon, also sued Z Capital, demanding access to financial records tied to millions of dollars in assessments.
Now, the North Carillon condo association alleges that Z Capital has “systematically stripped away, and failed to replace as promised, the top-quality wellness brand and lifestyle” of Canyon Ranch which condominium unit owners counted on when buying their units.
The suit alleges that Z Capital had promised that if its acquisition were approved, it would either retain the existing Canyon Ranch brand name or bring an “equally exclusive, luxurious, and renowned five-star brand” to the property, maintaining the focus on healthy living and wellness.
It also alleges that Z Capital decreased services and staffing in vital areas like security and amenities, while imposing maintenance and capital assessments that place the financial burden of operating and renovating the property on unit owners, even though all revenue flows solely to Z Capital.
The association further alleges that Z Capital breached contracts, including that it promised that the hotel operator would be a joint venture created among Adrian Zecha, founder of Amanresorts and director and non-executive chairman of General Hotel Management; Jonathan Breene, founder of Setai Group; and Z Capital, and that Z Capital would make good faith efforts to negotiate with Canyon Ranch to remain in the spa only.
Instead, the facilities at the Carillon are now being operated by Z Capital itself, according to the suit.
As a result, condo unit owners allege that that they have seen their property values fall, while hotel rates have plummeted, and that rooms, spa treatments and food and beverage deals are offered on discount websites.