Fort Lauderdale luxury auto dealership allegedly built without landlord’s consent: lawsuit

Peggie McNatt alleges Holman Automotive executives submitted false ownership documents to Broward County to get permit approvals

Sep.September 24, 2019 04:30 PM
Luxury Imports at 900 East Sunrise Boulevard

Luxury Imports at 900 East Sunrise Boulevard

A nearly completed Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls Royce dealership in Fort Lauderdale is at the center of a property dispute between the facility’s developer, Holman Automotive, and its Alabama-based landlord.

In a recently filed lawsuit, Peggie McNatt alleges Holman executives went behind her back to obtain approvals from Fort Lauderdale and Broward County permitting agencies to tear down a previous dealership and replace it with a new 29,657-square-foot showroom, plus a two-level parking garage and service department.

“The dealership didn’t have her permission to build on her land,” said McNatt’s attorney Michael Feinstein. “They have now two choices: They can buy her out for fair market value or they can proceed with their eviction.” He said McNatt is seeking $3.3 million.

John Shiekman, a lawyer for Holman Automotive, which is headquartered in Maple Shade, New Jersey, declined comment.

According to the lawsuit filed in Broward County Circuit Court, McNatt and her late husband initially leased the property at 900 East Sunrise Boulevard to King Motor Company of Fort Lauderdale in 1967 for 99 years. In Nov. 2007, King Motor assigned the lease to Holman, then submitted a plat amendment application to redevelop the land that McNatt signed off on, according to the lawsuit. But Holman did not follow through on the application.

In 2018, Holman submitted a second plat amendment application to redevelop the site into an Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls Royce dealership, but did not inform or involve McNatt, the lawsuit claims. McNatt alleges Holman executives made false representations to Broward County and Fort Lauderdale officials, including that the dealership had a fee simple interest in the property.

According to Feinstein, McNatt, an 83-year-old woman with no ties to South Florida, had to hire him to find out what Holman was up to. He sent Holman a letter on Feb. 8 warning Shiekman that the dealership was in breach of the 99-year lease agreement. “Before we filed the lawsuit, they admitted to making a mistake,” Feinstein said. “And afterward, they tried to back their way into authority by suggesting the 2007 amendment to the lease agreement gave them authority to do what they are doing more than 10 years later.”

In a Feb. 12 letter attached to the lawsuit, Shiekman told Feinstein that not seeking McNatt’s approval in the second plat amendment application was an “inadvertent omission,” but that she and her late husband had executed several documents as recently as 2015 granting permission to build the luxury dealership.

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