Shuttered Hotel Astor in Miami Beach gets a new owner

42-key hotel was previously marketed for sale amid bankruptcy; buyer plans renovation

(Facebook via Hotel Astor Miami Beach)
(Facebook via Hotel Astor Miami Beach)

Hotel Astor, an iconic Art Deco property in Miami Beach that has been at the center of an alleged EB-5 fraud and two bankruptcy filings, has a new owner.

Victory Investments Group, which records show is led by Anil Monga, paid $12.8 million for the shuttered 42-room hotel at 956 Washington Avenue in South Beach. Monga is CEO of Victory International USA, which manufactures and distributes name brand fragrances and cosmetics, according to Monga’s LinkedIn. Monga is also a hotel investor.

Property records show 1651 Astor LLC sold the building, which features a swimming pool and more than 4,000 square feet of restaurant space. It was built in 1936 on a 14,900-square-foot lot. The storied hotel was designed by T. Hunter Henderson.

The sale price equates to about $304,000 per room.

Susan Gale of One Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer and selller.

1651 Astor LLC, a Florida company that lists a Switzerland address, previously tried to sell the property’s ground lease for $12 million. Astor EB-5 LLC was the lessee that filed for bankruptcy two times, according to the filings. The lessor and fee simple owner, 1651 Astor LLC, acquired the ground lease and the building at a bankruptcy auction earlier this year, court records show.

Before it shut down in 2018, the lessee was the subject of a number of lawsuits. Astor EB-5 LLC was previously controlled by attorney David J. Hart, who raised $9 million from EB-5 investors in Brazil, China and Venezuela. Hart was accused of “commingling” personal funds with business funds and using the hotel “as his own personal piggy bank,” according to court filings.

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Stearns Weaver Miller attorney Eric Silver, who represented trustee Drew Dillworth in the bankruptcy case, said the property fell into disrepair that was “readily apparent from a layman’s eyes,” prior to the trustee’s involvement.

“It was a tough case because there were mounting liabilities, a ton of money owed to the landlord. The utilities haven’t been paid,” Silver said. “It was an attractive nuisance when it fell into the trustee’s hands.”

Once the property was sold back to the ground lessor, the Chapter 11 bankruptcy was converted to a Chapter 7 case, Silver said.

Hotel sales have increased in recent months. The Chetrit Group recently sold the Fairwind Miami Beach hotel for $42 million; and in a separate deal, the Como Metropolitan Miami Beach hotel traded for $70 million.

Gale, who declined to identify the buyer of Hotel Astor, said her client paid all cash for the property and plans to invest “a substantial amount of money” into renovations and repairs. She said the deal has been in the works for about three months.

She said the buyer plans to bring a New York-based restaurant to the property and hire a management company to operate the hotel, both of which are intended to increase the value.

“He wants to bring it back to the days of the grand dame that it was,” Gale said.