Bal Harbour Shops makes new offer: $15.6M for Village Hall site

Village Hall. Inset: Bal Harbour Shops owner Matthew Whitman Lazenby
Village Hall. Inset: Bal Harbour Shops owner Matthew Whitman Lazenby

The owner of Bal Harbour Shops now wants to buy the Village Hall site for $15.6 million and build the town a new one.

Whitman Family Development CEO Matthew Whitman Lazenby announced a new proposal at Tuesday’s Village Council meeting that would have the shops purchase the land, give Bal Harbour one of two larger pieces of land and build it a new village hall with underground parking, the Miami Herald reported. Unlike previous offers, the deal wouldn’t be tied to an expansion plan.

Bal Harbour Shops is offering the 1-acre site north of Neiman Marcus or the SunTrust Bank site east of Collins at 96th Street. The proposal could come before the village council as early as next month.

It’s one of many expansion attempts the luxury shops has made in years, including spending more than $300,000 backing the political campaigns of the now-elected village council members Jeffrey Freimark and David Albaum. In July, Whitman Family Development sued Assistant Mayor Patricia Cohen alleging she had violated the county’s code of ethics by not disclosing her friendship with the Soffer family, which owns competitor Aventura Mall.

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And the latest proposal already has opposition. The Bal Harbour Citizens Coalition submitted two petitions to make it more difficult for Bal Harbour Shops to expand, one to raise the vote threshold for the sale of public land, and the other to require 60 percent voter approval of a referendum for “any proposed commercial redevelopment plan that would increase retail space by more than 30 percent” in Bal Harbour, a town of about 2,800 residents.

In May, Whitman revamped its $400 million expansion plan with a different configuration that excluded the Village Hall site after the owner failed to win village approval. That design has at least 50,000 square feet less space, eliminating the addition of about 10 to 20 luxury boutiques but keeping plans for the first Barneys New York flagship store in the Southeastern U.S., significant upgrades to longtime anchor tenants Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, and new luxury boutiques and restaurants for the 51-year-old upscale shopping center.

Without the Village Hall site, the expansion would be built entirely on land already owned by the Bal Harbour Shops, including the site of the former Church by the Sea, purchased for $30 million by Whitman in February. [Miami Herald] – Katherine Kallergis

An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the Bal Harbour Shops’ offer for the Village Hall site. The shops is offering $15.6 million, not $16.5 million.