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Developer neighbor of Ransom Everglades sues to stop Grove expansion

Caroline Weiss alleges the private school failed to protect her neighboring home
By Francisco Alvarado | January 31, 2018 10:30AM

Rendering of the Ransom Everglades expansion

A Miami-based commercial developer who lives next door to Ransom Everglades is seeking a legal roadblock against the private school’s expansion plan.

On Jan. 25, Caroline Weiss sued Ransom in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for breach of contract, alleging school officials violated a 2010 agreement to protect her four-bedroom estate at 3187 Royal Road from any negative impacts caused by future development of the Coconut Grove campus.

Weiss, CEO of The Weiss Group of Companies that has developed multifamily and office buildings in Miami-Dade since the 1970s, is seeking unspecified damages and a permanent injunction to stop Ransom from implementing its special area plan, which was approved by the Miami City Commission on second reading the day she filed her lawsuit.

“My client has been more than reasonable with her neighbor,” said Weiss’ attorney Michael Schlesinger. “She believes they are not living up to their previous agreement and that the expansion plan is going to cause her to lose enjoyment of her property.” Weiss also plans to appeal the city commission’s Jan. 25 vote, Schlesinger added.

Ransom spokesperson Amy Shipley declined to comment on the allegations. “We just learned of the complaint and are reviewing it,” Shipley said. “We always strive to be a good neighbor and will continue to do so.”

Ransom wants to expand its high school campus at 3575 Main Highway by nearly seven acres through the addition of an adjacent property known as La Brisa that it bought in 2016 for nearly $35 million. In addition to increasing the Upper School’s total lot area to 801,319 square feet, the special area plan increases Ransom’s maximum enrollment by 67 for a total of 726 students, increases staff from 140 to 160 and increases the surface parking lot by 31 spaces for a total of 241.

According to Weiss’ lawsuit, Ransom provided Weiss with $50,000 in escrow to make Royal Road a private street per the 2010 agreement. She says she has taken “substantial steps” in order to secure the artery’s closure.

However, Weiss alleges that Ransom has declined to support the abandonment and closure of Royal Road because school officials have refused to sign the necessary applications and other documents needed in order for the county to re-plat Royal Road as a designated private street.

Furthermore, Ransom has failed to place screens between Weiss’ home and demolition projects currently underway at the school, the lawsuit states. She also accuses Ransom of failing to extend a border wall that acts as a buffer between her property and the Coconut Grove campus.

“Such failure by Ransom has caused unwanted ingress and egress from Ransom’s property onto Weiss’ property,” the lawsuit states. “As such, Ransom seeks to violate the agreement by constructing gate access points on Royal Road subsequent to the demolition of its existing structures.”