A joint venture between two national real estate investment firms to develop a 5.8-acre Biscayne Boulevard property near North Miami has gone kaput amid allegations of double-dealing and a dispute over control of the project.
Belfonti Cos., a Hamden, Connecticut-based firm, sued AMAC Holdings of Uniondale, New York, last month in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, alleging it was improperly cut out of the deal to build a residential project at 11150 Biscayne Boulevard.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Belfonti affiliate 1st Sun Properties, and the defendants are AMAC principal Maurice Kaufman and affiliates AH Biscayne Investor and Biscayne Boulevard Property Owner. At the same time, Belfonti has been defending against a lawsuit filed by AMAC in Miami federal court last August.
Belfonti and AMAC partnered to purchase the 11150 Biscayne Boulevard site for $16.16 million in 2015 and had plans to build an eight-story, 402-unit residential building. However, the project in the Biscayne Shores neighborhood of unincorporated Miami-Dade County, failed to get off the ground as both firms began fighting over Belfonti’s role. According to court records, AMAC owned 94 percent interest and Belfonti had a 6 percent stake when the deal closed.
“We had to file a lawsuit to put third parties on notice that there is a dispute over has the authority to bind the limited liability company [developing the property],” said Belfonti lawyer Victor Diaz Jr. “So no third party could acquire the property without knowing that.”
Jonathan Minsker, AMAC’s attorney, told The Real Deal that his client has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
In its lawsuit, Belfonti accuses Kaufman and the AMAC affiliates of reneging on a signed agreement that 1st Sun and AH Biscayne would “equally share” management decisions over the project once the Belfonti affiliate acquired another 19 percent by July 24, 2016. Belfonti alleges AMAC refused to sell it more shares to reach the 25 percent threshold.
In addition, the lawsuit states that Kaufman filed false paperwork on February 10 of this year with the Florida Secretary of State stating that AH Biscayne had sole authority over the property and that the AMAC affiliate has begun preparing the site for development without resolving the dispute.
The separate, federal lawsuit filed by AMAC accuses 1st Sun of breach of contract, breach of good faith and breach of fiduciary duty because the Belfonti affiliate has refused to sign an operating agreement giving AH Biscayne sole authority over management of the project. As a result, 1st Sun has “jeopardized the entire project,” AMAC alleges.
Harunobu Coryne contributed reporting.