Another legal offensive to put the kibosh on a new 45-story tower at The Jockey Club in North Miami is underway.
Last month, the associations for Jockey Club I and II sued Miami-Dade County to overturn the Biscayne Shores Community Council’s approval of a site plan for Apeiron at The Jockey Club, an ultra-modern project being proposed by developers Muayad “Mo” Abbas, Horst Schulze and Michael Bedner.
The associations allege the council’s November 2017 vote affirming the project materially alters the density and intensity of the entire Jockey Club site, and that the proposed building is not consistent with the county’s comprehensive development and land use plans. The complaint seeks a temporary injunction to stop any development activity related to Apeiron.
“The residents remain optimistic and are pursuing a number of fronts redress of their rights to prevent improper development on their beautiful Jockey Club site,” said Glen Waldman, the plaintiffs’ attorney.
A Miami-Dade spokesperson said the county doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Abbas referred questions to the development team’s lawyer and Akerman shareholder Augusto Maxwell, who said his clients are confident the Jockey Club associations will lose the latest court action.
“The site plan was vetted and recommended for approval by Miami-Dade planning staff and the county attorney’s office, and it will withstand this challenge,” Maxwell said. “We think we will succeed.”
Abbas and his partners, who purchased the land for $3.25 million in 2014, want to build a 528-foot building that includes 120 “serviced” condos ranging from 1,500 square feet to 4,500 square feet along with a 90-key boutique hotel. The project would also have a 5-acre health and wellness facility, tennis courts, pools, a dog park, children’s playground, bayfront promenade and a new 50-slip, deep-water yacht marina.
The developers obtained a $21 million loan in December 2015 to finance planning costs.
A year later, residents of the condo complex sued the developers, alleging two agreements between the Jockey Club’s original developer and the condo associations of the first two buildings prohibited a new project such as Apeiron.
Following a May 2017 trial, a judge ruled the developers had a right to develop the project and to take over maintenance of the property, which was previously handled by a master association made up of the three existing Jockey Club buildings, built between 1971 and 1982.
The latest lawsuit accuses Miami-Dade of committing several violations of county code, including not requiring Abbas and his team to obtain a side setback variance because the proposed building would only be six feet and three inches away from an interior lot not owned by Apeiron’s developers.
“This short setback could hinder Jockey I’s efforts to develop that property in the future,” the lawsuit states. “Additionally, this short setback will cause overcrowding within the Jockey Club, cut off the Jockey Club I and II’s access to light and air and allow overall increased intensity of development.”
Apeiron, the lawsuit claims, is going to “diminish the quality of life” for the residents by placing their buildings and club facilities “into darkness, outside of the Florida sunshine.”