Three Hundred Collins allegedly marred by cheap materials, unpaid contractors and duped investors: lawsuit

Developer Dhruv Piplani allegedly won’t complete the project and is keeping condo owners in the dark

Three Hundred Collins
Three Hundred Collins

Three Hundred Collins in Miami Beach’s South-of-Fifth neighborhood is besieged with poor quality interiors, debts to contractors and an unresponsive developer, among other problems, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

The 300 Collins Condominium Association is suing JHPSB Collins Development, marking the latest salvo from buyers who allege they were duped into purchasing units in a condominium that is not as luxurious as advertised in marketing materials. The building at 300 Collins Avenue has 19 units that ranged in price from $1.7 million to $9 million.

The complaint was filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, three days after Miami-Dade Judge William Thomas granted summary judgment in favor of JHPSB in a separate lawsuit that made similar allegations, filed by individual unit owners as the plaintiffs.

According to Thomas’ order dismissing the first lawsuit, the judge ruled that under Florida law the condo association, and not the individual buyers, had the right to sue.

“We feel this [new lawsuit] is baseless,” said JHPSB’s attorney Marko Cerenko. “We feel strongly this one has no merit either and we dispute the allegations.”

Donald Hayden, the association’s lawyer, declined comment.

The five-story boutique condominium started off as a joint venture project between New York developer Jason Halpern and his silent partner, Dhruv Piplani. The partnership fractured and a legal battle ensued. Two years ago the same judge ordered Halpern’s JMH Development to turn over its remaining interest in Three Hundred Collins to PSB Collins, an entity managed by Piplani.

In March, the Third District of Appeals denied JMH’s petition to overturn Thomas’ partial summary judgment for PSB Collins, according to court documents.

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In the most recent lawsuit, the condo association alleges JHPSB refuses to turn over the building and has gone AWOL in addressing a litany of unfinished construction work and fixes.
Unit owners found that many of the most basic elements — such as electric garage doors, the pool deck and an ornamental fountain — “were installed cheaply or improperly, have been prone to malfunction or were never completed at all,” the condo association claims.

“Punch lists promised to be addressed by the developer within 60 to 90 days of closing have been ignored,” the lawsuit states. “In recent months, some of the malfunctions and neglect in the maintenance of this luxury building have led to life safety issues.”

Those defects include loss of air conditioning for multiple days in the heat of summer, malfunctioning elevators and a malfunctioning garage gate. JHPSB knowingly substituted substandard products and finishes to the detriment of the individual unit owners and the building as a whole, the condo association alleges.

In addition, the complaint said contractors and vendors who allegedly haven’t been paid have refused to come back and fix critical issues. Court records reveal five other pending lawsuits against JHPSB filed by construction firms and subcontractors that worked on the project.

“Since Piplani, through his corporate entity, PBS Collins, has taken over the control and management of the developer, no material movement has been made toward completion of the building,” the lawsuit states. “The unit owners have been left in the dark.”

The complaint alleges the condominium should have been turned over in late 2018 when the developer had closed on 94 percent of the units.

High-profile buyers at Three Hundred Collins include cosmetics executives Richard Ferretti and his husband, James Gager, who paid $5.8 million for a penthouse; New York-based ATM clothing designer and founder Anthony Thomas Melillo, who paid about $2 million for a unit; and celebrity restaurateur Myles Chefetz, who owns the nearby Prime 112 and Prime Italian.