An eight-year-old deal to develop a Courtyard by Marriott hotel on a prime slice of waterfront land in Marathon is at the center of a shattered business partnership between a real estate lawyer and his former client and family friend.
Reynaldo Gonzalez sued attorney Carlos Triay in Miami-Dade Circuit Court two weeks ago for allegedly cutting him out of an ownership stake in Keys MV Two R Investments, a company that controlled the three parcels of vacant land in Marathon. He also alleges Triay deprived him of a larger share of the profits when Keys MV’s interests were sold to hotel development firm Prime Hospitality Group, which is based in Hollywood.
In addition to Triay, Gonzalez is suing Keys MV, Prime and its CEO Larry Abbo.
Triay’s attorney Karen Parker said Gonzalez’s lawsuit is erroneous and inaccurate, noting her client had not yet been served. “Mr. Gonzalez converted his investment into a loan that was paid off with interest,” Parker said. “The property was subsequently sold and he thinks he is entitled to a piece of it. This is greed gone bad.”
Fred Abbo, Prime’s president and chairman, referred questions to Larry Abbo, who did not respond to two phone messages seeking comment. Gonzalez’s attorney Christian Rodriguez also did not respond.
According to the lawsuit, Gonzalez gave $2.4 million on Dec. 1, 2010 to Triay, whom he has known for many years and who represented his retail business Popular Discount. At the time, Triay and Gonzalez had done several successful ventures together, the complaint states. Triay used the $2.4 million for the purchase of three vacant waterfront lots at 1046 and 1088 Overseas Highway in Marathon that were in foreclosure. Triay formed Keys MV, naming himself and Gonzalez as managing members, and the company bought the $4.75 million mortgage on the properties.
A year later — after informing Gonzalez that the vacant land was worth $10.5 million and that they would do a joint venture agreement to develop a hotel — Keys MV and Prime formed a partnership company called Marathon Hospitality to build what was initially an 80-room Hampton Inn. Instead, Marathon Hospitality built a 96-room Courtyard by Marriott that opened in 2016. Ownership of the properties was transferred to Marathon Hospitality unbeknownst to Gonzalez, the lawsuit claims.
On Oct. 11, 2017, Keys MV sold its interest in Marathon Hospitality to a Prime affiliate called PMG Asset Services for $5.8 million even though Triay had claimed the property was worth $10.5 million prior to the hotel’s development, the lawsuit states. Triay paid Gonzalez a total of $2.9 million from the sale, which he claimed represented repayment of $2.4 million plus interest, according to the suit. Furthermore, Triay and his attorney Parker maintained that Gonzalez was a lender and not a partner of Keys MV and therefore is not entitled to an equity stake.
Gonzalez alleges the property is worth more than the amount that Keys MV was sold to Prime, and that he is entitled to an equal share of any profits Triay is making from the partnership agreement.