One Thousand Museum developers refund nearly $1M deposit for condo purchase in legal dispute

$875K of the deposit was returned

One Thousand Museum with developer Louis Birdman (Getty, One Thousand Museum)
One Thousand Museum with developer Louis Birdman (Getty, One Thousand Museum)

The developers of One Thousand Museum condominium tower in downtown Miami paid back a would-be unit buyer most of his $1 million deposit following a legal battle over emails.

New Yorker Richard Smith, who works in finance, wanted to backtrack from buying unit 3102 for $5.2 million in March 2020, and sued the 1000 Biscayne Tower LLC developers’ group the following month, seeking his deposit. In a countersuit, the developers said Smith missed the deadlines to cancel the purchase and close on the unit, therefore losing his deposit.

One Thousand Museum developers – who include Louis Birdman, Gilberto Bomeny, Kevin Venger and partners Gregg Covin and Todd Michael Glaser – completed the 62-story tower at 1000 Biscayne Boulevard in 2019. Zaha Hadid designed the 84-unit building.

The legal dispute focused on the developer group emailing disclosure forms to Smith’s accountant. The standard documents include details on condo association management and budget.

Smith’s attorney, Sheila Oretsky, said the developers did not meet a requirement to get Smith’s written consent to receive the forms by email, so hard copies should have been mailed. The developer group’s attorney, Stuart Sobel, countered that Smith signed off on getting documents by email and that the developers provided him with everything required.

The two sides settled in April on an $875,000 refund, which has been returned to Smith, according to Oretsky, a shareholder at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

The settlement came after Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Antonio Arzola on April 13 sided in part with Smith, saying the developers were supposed to notify that they would email forms.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

It’s unclear why Smith decided to nix buying the unit, as Oretsky said only that he did not like some of the terms in the condo documents.

Emailing condo forms to Smith’s accountant is as odd as “sending a lawyer a copy of his X-rays,” she said. When Smith signed the purchase agreement in February 2020, he also signed a form confirming he had received the disclosures. But that form was false, as it said he received hard copies, Oretsky said. Smith, who is 81, signed without an attorney first reviewing the forms on his behalf.

Sobel countered that Smith in fact did not want the paper copies. “Then he didn’t like getting it by email,” Sobel said. “There was nothing that we were supposed to disclose that we didn’t. It’s really not fair to say we did not give every disclosure to which he was entitled.”

The developer group fought for the deposit to recoup losses from the failed deal, but was more open to settling after selling the unit, Sobel said. A deed shows Derek Dixon, as trustee of the Derek M. Dixon Trust, paid $5.3 million for the unit in July.

This is not the first legal woe One Thousand Museum has faced, as London-based Reuben Brothers sued in March to foreclose on 15 unsold units, saying the developers owed the balance of the mortgage, totaling $82.7 million plus interest.

The development team secured a lifeline soon afterward in the form of a $90 million condo inventory loan from Cirrus Real Estate Partners.