Bahri Developments accuses ex-partner of welching on real estate deals

Partners formed CEN Construction and CEN Development in 2013

May.May 15, 2017 08:45 AM

CEN Construction’s plan for an 18-townhouse project was rejected by Miami commissioners

A South Miami development company focused in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables is accusing a former partner of trying to cheat it out of residential investments belonging to the partnership, according to a recently filed lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Bahri Developments, led by Fadi Bahri, is suing Bob Liu and his Coral Gables-based company Victoria Engineering Management for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. Bahri attorney Ralf Rodriguez did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment. Calls to a publicly listed phone number for Liu went unanswered.

Bahri Developments is part of Beirut-based Bahri Group. Its most recent Miami development is South 27 Lofts, a townhouse complex with a sell-out value of $13 million, according to its website.

Bahri and Liu’s Victoria Engineering Management formed CEN Construction and CEN Development in 2013 to develop new homes and renovate existing ones, according to the lawsuit. The suit does not specify any details about the properties, but public records show CEN Development purchased a 4,950-square-foot vacant lot at 3110 Hibiscus Street in Miami for $120,000 in May 2014. Located near South Dixie Highway and Douglas Road, the property is zoned for a duplex home, and a newly built, modern townhouse at the site is now on the market for $785,000, according to Zillow.

Bahri and Liu are also partners in a company called 4615 Ponce Holdings LLC that owns a one-story office building on a 2,500-square-foot lot in Coral Gables. Bahri and Liu paid $725,000 in May 2016 for the property located at 4615 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, records show.

At least one project never came to fruition. In June 2015, the Miami Planning and Zoning Board rejected CEN Construction’s proposal to transform four single houses and two vacant lots into 18 townhouses on U.S. 1 near Miami Science Museum. City commissioners cited neighborhood opposition in rejecting the owner’s rezoning request from single-family to multi-family.

In March, Bahri and Liu had a falling out over how to run CEN Construction and CEN Development, the lawsuit states. Bahri accuses Liu and Victoria of unilaterally taking over numerous ongoing projects that belonged to CEN, as well as alienating investors, steering them away from doing business with CEN. Liu and Victoria have also refused to list properties developed or renovated by CEN that are ready to go on the market, Bahri claims.

“Liu and [Victoria] are instead holding on to the properties in an effort to privately market them to investors that are friendly to Liu and [Victoria],” the lawsuit states.  

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