UPDATED, May 19, 11:20 a.m.: New York City-based Chetrit Group has acquired 102 condo units over the last six months at the Hollywood Beach Resort, an oceanfront property in Hollywood that the city’s founder built almost a century ago.
Chetrit’s move further marks the trend among developers to buy out waterfront condo owners, which has accelerated since the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside last summer.
Property records show that an entity controlled by the Chetrit Group paid $15.5 million from Nov. 17 to April 21 to acquire 102 condos at the 96-year-old property at 101 North Ocean Drive on the barrier island in Hollywood. The average sale price was $152,400 per unit.
Chetrit financed the bulk purchase with a $78 million loan from Madison Realty Capital. Henry Bodek of Galaxy Capital arranged the financing.
Executives of Chetrit Group were unavailable for comment on the firm’s plans at the Hollywood Beach Resort, where condo owners can rent their units through a condo-hotel. The mixed-use property also has separately owned parking and commercial space, including the desolate, depopulated Oceanwalk Mall on the first two floors of the eight-floor building.
It’s unclear how many units Chetrit would need to own to win a vote by unit owners to dissolve the building’s condominium declaration and its association of unit owners. The board of directors of the Hollywood Beach Hotel Owners Association did not respond to a request for comment.
State records show that in the 12 months ended March 16, Jonathan Chetrit became president of Hollywood Beach Hotel Owners Association, replacing Michel Jekic, now vice president. Michael Chetrit took over the newly created position of secretary.
Various developers, including Miami-based Related Group, have tried unsuccessfully to gain control of the Hollywood Beach Resort and redevelop the property, said South Florida developer Lon Tabatchnick.
“Related tried. I tried. A lot of developers have tried to make it happen, and it’s been a challenge,” said Tabatchnick, who developed the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, a 369-key oceanfront hotel 10 blocks north of the Hollywood Beach Resort.
Tabatchnick said he once worked with the owner of the parking garage next to the condo-hotel on a plan to redevelop the Hollywood Beach Resort, but multiple ownerships of different parts of the property thwarted the redevelopment effort.
“That’s always been the challenge. You’ve got a commercial entity that owns the mall; the condo residents; and the garage owner. And for whatever reason, they were never able to come together and make a cohesive plan and treat everybody fairly,” he said. “It’s like a Rubik’s cube. One entity can’t do it without the other two.”
Chetrit Group has prior experience as a bulk condo buyer in South Florida. “This is right up their alley,” said Miami-based condo consultant Peter Zalewski, who once did consulting work for the New York real estate firm.
The privately held firm, controlled by Joseph Chetrit and his brothers Jacob, Judah, and Meyer, paid $50 million to acquire control of the Versailles hotel and condominium in Miami Beach in 2013. Chetrit Group then won approval to renovate the Art Deco landmark at 3425 Collins Avenue, before selling it the same year to Alan Faena and Len Blatnavik, the developers of the Faena District in Miami Beach.
Joseph Young, the founder of Hollywood, built the Hollywood Beach Resort and opened the poured-concrete structure to the public for the winter tourist season in 1926, according to a presentation on the property’s history in November 2020 by Clive Taylor, president of the Hollywood Historical Society. The storied property served as a Navy officer training facility during World War II, and as a seaside campus of the Florida Bible College during the 1970s, before its 1980 launch as a timeshare resort.
Owners at the Hollywood Beach Resort last month disclosed a need for structural and electrical repairs to the property in an application to obtain a mandated 40-year recertification of the building’s safety, said Joann Hussey, spokesperson for the city of Hollywood. “Now they are in the permitting process to make those repairs,” she said.
“It was built like a fortress. But it’s an obsolete building,” Tabatchnick said. “It could be a signature property on the beach, which Hollywood needs desperately. The Chetrit Group has the capacity and the ability to do it, and I think the time is right.”