Miami Design District building allegedly lost $5M in value due to billboard ban: lawsuit

The owner wants the city of Miami to pay for the diminished value of its property at 100 Northeast 38th Street

100 Northeast 38th Street (Credit: Google Maps)
100 Northeast 38th Street (Credit: Google Maps)

The owner of a commercial building in the Miami Design District is suing the city for approving a billboard ban that allegedly sunk the value of the property by nearly $5 million.

Karenza Apartments LLP, which owns the building at 100 Northeast 38th Street, alleges it also lost a lucrative contract with a billboard advertiser after city commissioners passed the measure that prohibits billboards north of I-95, at the behest of Miami Design District developer Craig Robins of Dacra.

Attorneys for the city and Karenza declined comment. Documents attached to the lawsuit list Michael Siegel, a Cooper City-based accountant, as the company’s managing partner. A spokesperson for Dacra, that along with partner L Real Estate has redeveloped the Miami Design District into a luxury retail destination, did not respond to two emails seeking comment.

According to the complaint, the city commission passed the ban on second reading on July 27, 2017, about a year after it was introduced by Commissioner Keon Hardemon at Robins’ request. At the time, Karenza had an agreement with Becker Boards Miami to place a large mural above its one-story property, which is currently occupied by the offices of architecture firm Shulman + Associates. Karenza’s building was one of three properties in the Design District with billboard permits, the lawsuit states.

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Karenza claims the city commission ignored a planning and zoning appeals board recommendation that its building be grandfathered in because the proposed measure included an exemption for one of the other neighboring billboard properties, at 3704 Northeast Second Avenue.

At a hearing two months before the city commission’s vote, planning board members “noted the inherent and unwarranted inequity of treating [Karenza’s] property and the 3704 Northeast Second Avenue property…differently,” the lawsuit claims.

“The appeals board also noted the unusual manner in which the Miami Design District had influenced the proposed ordinance, the boundaries of the geographic area and the mural rights of properties outside the Miami Design District special area plan,” the complaint alleges.

On Aug. 26, 2017, when the ban took effect, Becker Boards Miami relocated its mural to a property south of I-195 since Karenza’s property was no longer allowed to have billboards. Karenza is suing the city for $4.8 million in damages, which represents the dollar amount of the property’s diminished value, the suit states.

According to an appraisal attached to the lawsuit, Karenza’s property was worth $13.4 million until the day the ban went into effect and Becker Boards moved its mural. The property is now worth $8.6 million, per the appraisal.