More than four years after unit owners at the Brickell House tower reported issues with a robotic car garage, the condo association received an award of over $40 million.
A Miami-Dade County judge awarded the condo association $40.6 million last week from the development group, BrickellHouseHoldings, over issues stemming from the failed car garage. The amount comes in addition to a $32 million settlement awarded to the condo association last year, paid by the elevator’s insurer, the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co.
The settlement appeared to be one of the largest of its kind in the state of Florida.
The new award marks the latest chapter in the strange saga of Brickell House.
The 46-story Brickell House at 1300 Brickell Bay Drive, was developed by Harvey Hernandez’s Newgard Development Group and was one of the first post-recession condo buildings constructed in Brickell. It had tapped a new technology to lure buyers that was designed to automatically move cars into parking spots without having drivers inside them.
But condo owners alleged that it would take hours to get their cars, and the system began malfunctioning as soon as residents moved in, according to the association’s complaint. The condo association also alleged that the system would often stall and malfunction, and would only work properly under constant staff supervision. The company that created the technology, Boomerang Systems, eventually went bankrupt.
Ron Lowy of Lowy & Cook PA, who represents the development group, said the group is planning to appeal the judge’s latest ruling.
“The insurance has already paid the condo association $32 million over a year ago in July 2018. After being paid this money, the association failed to repair the garage, and instead sued the developer for the same replacement garage that the insurance already paid the association for,” Lowy said. “The jury award provides the association with over $72 million for what the jury determined was only a $40 million loss.”
Helio De La Torre of Siegfried Rivera law firm, who represents the association, said the group is looking to replace the garage with an automated parking system.
“The association has been left without parking for its residents in the promised 480-vehicle garage since November 2015,” De La Torre said in a statement. “Since that date, residents have been parking offsite and incurring increased costs due to the failed robotic parking system sold by the developer.”
In August, developer Hernandez settled with the condo association for $275,000, which dismissed with prejudice all claims against him.
Automated car garages and elevators are becoming more popular among developers. Notably, Dezer Development’s Porsche Design Tower has a car elevator known as the “Dezervator” that takes cars to residents’ individual condo units. And in Boston, a recently completed luxury condo building called the Boulevard plans to use an automatic system to move cars into a 35-space underground garage.