Judge’s panel rules over Beach Towing and Deco Capital Group’s fight over Sunset Harbour project

In the most recent order, the judges wrote that they found no error in the city of Miami Beach designating Beach Towing’s property as an automobile and truck storage facility

TRD MIAMI /
Mar.March 06, 2020 11:30 AM
Bradley Colmer, a Sunset Park rendering and 1349 Dade Boulevard (Credit: Domo Architecture and Design and Google Maps)

Bradley Colmer, a Sunset Park rendering and 1349 Dade Boulevard (Credit: Domo Architecture and Design and Google Maps)

As Deco Capital Group and Beach Towing battle over the development of a retail and residential project in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour neighborhood, a panel of judges has issued new rulings.

In the latest move, the panel of three Miami-Dade Circuit Court judges last week rejected a petition to overturn decisions by Miami Beach officials allowing automobile and truck storage on Beach Towing’s property at 1349 Dade Boulevard. The petition was filed by Sunset Land Associates and SH Owner, two development entities managed by Deco Capital.

Two other orders in recent months sided with the development firm managed by Bradley Colmer and Marc Rowan, a New York City-based billionaire builder. The panel tossed petitions filed by Beach Towing challenging decisions by the Miami Beach planning board and design review board approving Deco Capital’s Sunset Park, a planned 67,000-square-foot mixed-use project at 1733-1769 Purdy Avenue and 1730 Bay Road, allowing the project to move forward.

The development site is across the street from Beach Towing. Beach Towing has sought to stop the project, while Deco Capital Group has attempted to shut down the towing company’s tow yard.

The battle between Deco Capital and Beach Towing dates back to 2015, when the towing company opposed a height increase for the proposed development site. A year later, the developer sued Beach Towing and the Lofts at South Beach Condominium, which also opposed the height increase. Deco Capital also sent a legal memo to Miami Beach officials that asserted the tow yard was a violation of Miami Beach zoning regulations for Sunset Harbour.

The latest court stand-off was the result of a Miami Beach Board of Adjustment vote last March denying Deco Capital Group’s appeal arguing the city’s zoning director Thomas Mooney wrongly determined Beach Towing is allowed to store automobiles and trucks on its property. In an August 2018 memo, Mooney noted that a 1989 revision to the city code no longer allows tow services in Sunset Harbour, where Beach Towing and the proposed development are located.

However, Mooney also concluded Beach Towing has been grandfathered in since the company had been at its current location since 1986 and has provided towing services for more than three decades.

Deco Capital Group sued the city to overturn the adjustment board’s 6-0 vote. The three-judge panel determined “Beach Towing’s storage facility fits within the defined permitted use” and found “no error in the city’s determination,” last week’s order states.

“We fail to see how storage of cars and trucks on paved land surrounded by a six-foot wall can be fairly characterized as vacant land,” the judges wrote.

On Jan. 16, the panel denied Beach Towing’s petitions after determining the planning board and the design review board votes were “supported by competent, substantial evidence.” In August of last year, the Third District of Appeals also rejected Beach Towing’s appeal of a lawsuit it lost against Sunset Land Associates.

Ralph Andrade, Beach Towing’s attorney, said the Feb. 26 denial last week of Deco Capital’s petition was a “victory of the little guy.”

“The court’s well-reasoned ruling puts an end to the developer’s antics and tantrums to put us out of business,” Andrade said. “We stood up to a greedy bully developer and won.”

Jeffrey Bass, the attorney representing the Deco Capital entities, noted his client won three out of the four recent court cases. “Last time I checked, 25 percent is a failing grade,” Bass said. “We forcibly dispatched their very specious challenge to our wonderful project.”


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