Commercial condo owners in South Beach sue over alleged “fire sale” attempt

Russell and Marissa Galbut among the defendants

1501 Collins Avenue and Russell Galbut (Credit: Google Maps, Tequilas Chicas)
1501 Collins Avenue and Russell Galbut (Credit: Google Maps, Tequilas Chicas)

The majority owners of a commercial condo building in South Beach are attempting to force a fire sale of the building, a recently filed lawsuit alleges. They’re seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and want the judge to stop the sale of the building.

Tequila Chicas, a Mexican-style restaurant and bar, and the owners of some units at 1501 Collins Avenue are suing the building’s condo association and other owners, according to the Daily Business Review. They claim that the association and majority owners of the commercial building – including Russell and Marissa Galbut – are pushing for an online foreclosure sale to buy the other units at a heavily discounted price from market value.

The building’s market value is more than $100 million, according to the lawsuit.

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“Then they can take the property and they can redevelop it themselves and make lots of money,” Patrick E. Gonya Jr., an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Daily Business Review. He said the association secretly voted to terminate the condo, and that the condo association has let the building fall into disrepair. It’s now mostly empty.

In January, a group of investors lost a years-long battle against companies tied to Galbut, his nephew Keith Menin and the Shelbourne’s condo association. The plaintiffs in that case alleged that Menin, Galbut and the association authorized nearly $30 million in illegal assessments to renovate and repair the hotel condo. [DBR]Katherine Kallergis