Grove Isle developers face new lawsuit over proposed project

Lawsuit alleges the project would obliterate affluent community’s character, endanger residents during hurricanes

Nov.November 19, 2019 02:45 PM
Rendering of The Markers Grove Isle

Rendering of The Markers Grove Isle

Grove Isles Associates is facing another legal challenge to its plans for a new condominium complex in the waterfront luxury community in Coconut Grove.

This time, it’s a lone Grove Isle homeowner who owns a $26-million-a-year in sales metals manufacturing firm seeking to derail the project, known as The Markers Grove Isle.

For the past four years Grove Isle Associates has engaged in legal skirmishes with the community’s condo association, which represents unit owners in three residential towers, over the tearing down of a hotel and spa on the island to make way for The Markers, a five-building project. Most recently, the Grove Isle Association appealed a lower court’s denial of its petition to prevent the developer from getting its demolition permit.

According to the new lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Grove Isles Associates and the city of Miami, the developer’s current plans would create an “over-sized stadium-like structure” that would encircle Grove Isle Tower 3, where Robert Denholtz owns a three-bedroom unit. The new buildings would also cause significant danger to Grove Isle residents during tropical storms and hurricanes by creating a “Venturi effect,” which causes wind forces to increase as it passes through a narrow airspace between the existing buildings and the new structures, the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit was filed by Save Grove Isle, a shell company formed Oct. 31 that lists Denholtz as its manager and his unit as the corporate address. Denholtz is president of Durex, a metals manufacturer based in Union, New Jersey. On the same day, Save Grove Isle sued the city and Grove Isle Associates, seeking an injunction to stop the developer from obtaining any building permits to move forward with construction of The Markers.

“It is outrageous that the developer would attempt to construct a building in a manner that would jeopardize the health and safety of Grove Isle residents,” said Save Grove Isle’s lawyer Todd Legon. “What’s even more outrageous is that the city would let them do it.”

A city of Miami spokesperson declined comment, but Grove Isle Associates attorney John Shubin said the lawsuit is frivolous. “It will not prevent the developers from moving forward with demolition and construction,” Shubin said. “It is a desperate Hail Mary not brought in good faith to derail the project.”

The lawsuit claims the Grove Isle Association commissioned an engineering report that the potential for high wind velocities will increase dramatically when the new five-tower complex is completed. Save Grove Isle alleges the report concluded that 50 miles per hour wind gusts would speed up to 300 miles at the most narrow point between Grove Isle Tower 3 and the proposed project.

Aside from the alleged catastrophic wind forces, the lawsuit alleges the new project would create traffic havoc on Grove Isle as the community relies on a two-lane bridge to get in and out, and the new construction would interfere with a $24 million concrete restoration of the three existing condominiums slated to be completed in 2021.

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