Trump Group, Suffolk Construction sue each other over Estates at Acqualina

Affiliates of Jules Trump’s firm filed first case in February over two-tower project

Jules Trump and Suffolk CEO and chairman John Fish with a rendering of the Estates at Acqualina (Getty, Suffolk, Avra)
Jules Trump and Suffolk CEO and chairman John Fish with a rendering of the Estates at Acqualina (Getty, Suffolk, Avra)

Affiliates of Trump Group and Suffolk Construction filed dueling lawsuits over the delayed Estates at Acqualina, a sold-out, $1.8 billion condo development in Sunny Isles Beach.

A3 Development, led by brothers Jules and Eddie Trump, filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against Suffolk Construction last month regarding the two-tower, oceanfront development at 17909 Collins Avenue. (A3 and The Trump Group are unrelated to Donald Trump.)

This week, Boston-based Suffolk sued back in federal court.

Suffolk signed a $129.5 million contract in the summer of 2020 to develop the north tower, taking over from Coastal Construction, which signed a $600 million contract with the developer to build the entire 248-unit luxury project in 2018.

Lawsuits over construction delays are common, especially as more builders grapple with supply and labor shortages, and buyers are anxious to close on units they may have put deposits on years ago.

But the Acqualina lawsuits instead point to allegedly unpaid work and disagreements over construction change directives exceeding $5 million.

Suffolk claims that it was directed to perform extra and changed work that it was not paid for and that the developer did not provide sufficient information to make the changes. The developer, for its part, claims that Suffolk is not entitled to more money.

Referring to the contract, the developer asserts that “Suffolk is required to take whatever actions [are] necessary” to mitigate such delays, including adding manpower. Its complaint adds that Suffolk has instead cut staffing at the project and removed “critical supervisory personnel.”

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The two buildings are to share a 45,000-square-foot villa housing such amenities as a spa, gym, movie theater, ice skating rink, speakeasy style bar and bowling alley. Avra Miami Estiatorio will anchor the building, located between the condo high-rises. Both towers will have lobbies designed by the late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld.

The 49-story south tower was supposed to be completed last August and the 52-story north tower was supposed to be done by Feb. 11 of this year, according to the developer’s complaint. Neither building has a temporary certificate of occupancy yet.

Read more

After missing the August deadline, Suffolk “assured” the developer that it would complete the south tower by November, but did not, and by January, the general contractor said it would complete both buildings by March and May, according to the earlier complaint, which calls those dates “unrealistic.”

“That is nine months beyond the contractually required date and five and a half months beyond Suffolk’s own … recently revised date,” states the lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Both Suffolk and Trump said in statements to The Real Deal that they hoped to resolve the litigation.

“While it is regrettable that we had to take this step, we did so in pursuit of our customers’ best interests which is paramount in all that we do,” Jules Trump said.

Dan Antonellis, a vice president at Suffolk, said in his statement that the firm “stands by our work on the Estates at Acqualina” and looks forward to “working collaboratively with all our stakeholders to deliver the highest-quality project.”

The project would complement the developer’s adjacent Acqualina Resort & Residences and the Mansions at Acqualina.