The Real Deal Miami

Opponent of Privé condo project in Aventura sues the developers, the city and two cops

Dara Clarke was arrested in 2015 and charged with destroying a curb at the site of the Aventura development
November 12, 2016 11:15AM

Privé at Island Estates

Privé at Island Estates

The developers of a 160-unit condominium in Aventura called Privé at Island Estates are defendants in a lawsuit filed by the owner of a nearby home who has actively opposed the controversial development.

Dara Clarke, who resides in island community just south of another island where Privé is under construction, staged a one-person protest in February 2015 to block construction of a sidewalk by the developers of Privé, who called the cops. Aventura police charged Clarke and her husband David then destroyed a freshly poured curb by driving their cars over the concrete while it was still wet. Police arrested Clarke and her husband and jailed them.

The developers of Privé— Charles Phelans, Gary Cohen and Daniel Lebenson— subsequently sued the Clarkes for damages. But prosecutors decided against pursuing a criminal case against the couple.

Dara Clarke, who filed a successful appeal to get her arrest record expunged from public records, fired back with her own lawsuit, filed Thursday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the developers of Privé, the police officers who arrested her, and the City of Aventura.

Clarke’s suit charges the developers of Privé with malicious prosecution, negligent reporting to police, and defamation for comments  to news media. She also alleges that the police officers used excessive force in arresting her.

The developers recently topped off one of the two 16-story condo buildings that will comprise the Privé project, and they  say they have amassed $300 million in sales so far. Unit prices start at $2.1 million.

Attorneys for the city and the developers dismissed Clarke’s lawsuit as frivolous.

Several other owners of homes near the Privé site have a pending lawsuit against the developers to stop the half-built development. The suit claims the development violates an agreement that limited developer Gary Cohen to the construction of single-family homes at the site.

Susan Raffanello, an attorney for the homeowners, told the Miami Herald their lawsuit could force the developers to demolish what they have built if they started construction “knowing there was a challenge to his [Cohen’s] right to build multi-family housing.” [Miami Herald]Mike Seemuth