Marsha Soffer sues Ritz-Carlton, Miami Beach developer over delays

The lawsuit is the fourth by buyers against the project's development group

Ophir Sternberg in front of Miami Beach Ritz-Carlton Residences
Ophir Sternberg in front of Miami Beach Ritz-Carlton Residences

A member of the Soffer family is suing the development group behind The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach over the condominium project’s construction delays, and is looking to get her deposit back.

It’s the fourth lawsuit filed by buyers in the last four months, all seeking a refund of deposits due to delays.

Marsha Soffer, a daughter of billionaire Turnberry Associates developer Donald Soffer, filed suit in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court last month against the development group, 4701 North Meridian LLC, which is a partnership between Ophir Sternberg’s Lionheart Capital and Elliott Management Corp. Soffer is alleging breach of contract and is seeking a refund of her $2.52 million deposit.

“Basically, we want our deposit back,” said Soffer’s lawyer David Haber of the Miami law firm Haber Slade. “They (the developer) didn’t and couldn’t deliver.”

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach is a luxury condo development built on the former site of the Miami Heart Center, which will have 111 residences and 15 stand-alone villas with prices ranging from $2 million to $40 million.

Led by Israeli developer Sternberg, the project was pegged to be a European oasis in South Florida, but more than four years after breaking ground, the luxury development is still under construction.

Soffer alleges she agreed to purchase unit LPH03 in December 2014 and put down her deposit of $2.52 million, which accounted for 40 percent of her condo’s total purchase price of $6.3 million. In the contract, Soffer alleges the developer was required to “substantially complete” the construction of the unit by Dec. 31, 2016. It was then required to schedule the closing of the purchase of the condo unit no later than Dec. 31, 2017.

“Over 500 days have elapsed since the Defendant’s Outside Date to substantially complete construction of the Condominium Unit — and the Condominium Unit is months, if not years, from being substantially completed,” according to the complaint.

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Soffer alleges that 4701 North Meridian breached its purchase agreement and never provided any notice of an alleged “Force Majeure” event that would cause construction delays of more than 500 days.

Spokespersons for both Lionheart and Elliott Management Corp. declined comment.

Three other lawsuits filed against the development group — one brought by a Dallas-based couple, one from a Miami-Dade resident and another from a Mexico-based entity — all claim to have entered into purchase agreements and put down deposits for condo units between 2014 and 2015. Their units ranged in price from $3 million to $4.8 million. The lawsuits are still ongoing.

“I would not be surprised if more lawsuits of this nature are coming,” Haber said.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences is under construction on 7 acres on Surprise Lake in a residential area of Mid-Beach.

Lionheart chose Piero Lissoni, an acclaimed Italian architect known for minimalist design, to design the project. Sales launched in 2014. Last year, Douglas Elliman reported that 70 percent of the units were pre-sold.

The project also represented one of the first major construction loans in South Florida for Bank of the Ozarks, a Little Rock-based bank which has become Miami-Dade County’s most active construction lender.  Lionheart secured a $105 million construction loan from Bank of the Ozarks in the summer of 2015, including assuming $10 million in existing construction financing.

Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach will feature gardens, pools and 36 private boat slips. Shared amenities will include an art studio, a rooftop pool deck with private cabanas and a restaurant, a waterfront bar and social room, pet grooming facilities, indoor and outdoor yoga studios, a meditation garden and car wash facilities.

Lionheart Capital paid Mount Sinai Medical Center $20 million for the property in February 2012.

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