Ari Pearl sues, alleging Chetrit affiliate owes him buyout settlement

Pearl claims he’s owed over $1M as part of termination deal on Miami River development

Rendering of the Miami River project
Rendering of the Miami River project

UPDATED, Dec. 3, 11:45 a.m.: A longtime partner of the Chetrit family in South Florida is suing the company behind the Chetrit’s $1 billion planned development along the Miami River, alleging he’s owed a piece of his exit settlement.

Developer Ari Pearl is suing Miami River JV LLC in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for $1.125 million, the third and final payout as part of a settlement between the two. According to a buyout agreement dated in July 2017, Pearl and the Miami River LLC terminated their relationship regarding Pearl’s work as a consultant on their riverfront project.

As part of that agreement, according to the suit, Pearl was owed a total of $2.25 million in three pieces: $500,000 that Pearl previously received, $625,000 that Pearl would receive upon signing the agreement, and $1.125 million a year later – the latter of which Pearl alleges he did not receive. He also agreed to “continue to cooperate with JV in the effort to obtain approval of any pending zoning or land use applications” … within 12 months from the date of the agreement, according to the suit.

By paying Pearl the $2.25 million, the joint venture, a Delaware company, agreed to release and waive all claims against the joint venture, including “his employment by JV or his acting as a consultant to or on their behalf,” according to a 2017 contract that’s attached to the suit as an exhibit.

As part of the contract, Pearl also agreed to never work for or do business with “Robert Wolf, Stuart Podolsky, Jay Podolsky, Stephen Dupoux (or the RYC Restaurant) … without the express written consent of Jacob Chetrit and Joseph Chetrit” for a period of three years, according to the suit.

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Joe Chetrit and Pearl did not respond to requests for comment. Both were also working together on their Collins Park hotel redevelopment in Miami Beach, but it’s unclear if Pearl is still involved.

New York-based Chetrit and JDS Development Group have said they plan to build the mega mixed-use Miami River project at 401 Southwest Third Avenue in Miami. The five-phase development would have 1,678 residential units, 330 hotel rooms, 266,000 square feet of retail and office space, and more than 2,000 spaces.

In 2016, the developers hired Fortune International Group to handle condo sales – which did not launch – and the project was also slated to bring on a major hotel flag, but that also did not come to fruition. They closed on a $49 million pre-development loan in late 2016, but there has been little activity since then.

Plans for the site include four towers, a hotel, shops, restaurants, and a public river walk with boat slips. Phase one will have a 56-story building with a 207-room hotel, 334 condos, 42,100 square feet of retail and a parking garage.

JDS and Chetrit were seeking $130 million in EB-5 financing for their Miami River project.