Cushman & Wakefield sues Avenues school over unpaid commissions

The elite New York-based private school purchased the site in Little Haiti for $60M in November

Archbishop Curley Site and Cushman & Wakefield's CEO W. Brett White
Archbishop Curley Site and Cushman & Wakefield's CEO W. Brett White

Cushman & Wakefield alleges Avenues: The World School owes the commercial brokerage $500,000 in unpaid commission for its role in finding the site for the private school’s new Miami location.

The brokerage alleges in a suit filed earlier this month in Miami-Dade Circuit Court that after it was contracted by Avenues in May 2018, it found the school a location on the former site of Archbishop Curley Notre-Dame High School at 4949 Northeast 2nd Avenue in Little Haiti. In August, the property was placed under contract for $60 million.

Avenues President Jeff Clark

The lawsuit alleges the school paid the brokerage $500,000, but it is owed an additional $500,000 under the terms of the contract.

“Avenues disagrees with the claims made by Cushman & Wakefield and we hope to resolve this matter fairly and expeditiously,” according to a spokeswoman for Avenues: The World School.

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According to the lawsuit, Cushman & Wakefield was owed a commission of 4 percent of the gross purchase price up to $10 million. It was then owed an additional 1.5 percent of the gross purchase price on any amount between $10 million and $30 million, and would also get an additional 1 percent of the gross purchase price for any sale over $30 million. In total, these commissions total $1 million, according to the lawsuit.

Cushman & Wakefield is now attempting to collect the unpaid commission. An attorney for the firm declined comment citing the pending litigation.

The Archdiocese of Miami closed Archbishop Curley Notre-Dame High School in 2016. Late that year, it reportedly received a $65 million unsolicited offer for the property, before putting it on the market.

Avenues’ purchase ended speculation on who would buy the property after Edmonton, Canada-based Triple Five Group pulled out of the deal.

In 2012, Avenues opened its first school in the U.S. in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. It was founded by Benno Schmidt, the former president of Yale University and dean of Columbia Law School; Chris Whittle, the former owner of Esquire magazine; and Alan Greenberg, the former publisher of Esquire who owned a media company acquired by WebMD in 1999.

The school is consistently ranked as one of the top private schools in the country. Tuition at its New York school is over $56,000 for the 2019-2020 school year, according to its website. Last January, the school opened its second campus in São Paulo, Brazil.