Miami-Dade judge hits Codina Partners’ affiliate with $6M in damages

Grycon had sued 5350 Park condominium developer in 2020 for wrongful termination

Codina Partners’ Armando Codina and Ana-Marie Codina Barlick with 5350 Park
Codina Partners’ Armando Codina and Ana-Marie Codina Barlick with 5350 Park (Codina Partners, Downtown Doral)

A Codina Partners affiliate is on the hook for $6.4 million in damages after a Miami-Dade judge found the developer wrongfully terminated Grycon, the general contractor that built the developer’s 5350 Park condominium project in Downtown Doral.

On Tuesday, following a non-jury trial, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge William Thomas ruled against 5350 Park LLC, the development entity managed by Codina Executive Chairman Armando Codina and the firm’s CEO Ana-Marie Codina Barlick. In 2020, Fort Lauderdale-based Grycon sued 5350 Park, alleging Codina Partners fired the general contractor without cause in order to avoid paying a final bill of $3.6 million. 5350 Park has a pending countersuit that was filed last year.

Coral Gables-based Codina will now have to pay nearly double what the developer allegedly owed, plus attorney fees and court costs, according to Thomas’ order. “The greater weight of the evidence establishes 5350’s termination of Grycon for cause was wrongful,” Thomas wrote.

“Judge Thomas ruled [Codina] didn’t have a right to terminate my client,” Grycon’s attorney Stuart Sobel said. “I don’t know what the real motivation is, but [Codina] has held off paying us a boatload of dough for almost three years now.”

In an emailed statement, Joe Jimenez, Codina Partners’ EVP, said the developer will appeal Thomas’ order. “We believe that the Appellate Court’s review of this case will reveal the legal and factual errors made by the trial court,” Jimenez said. “And further find that Grycon fell woefully short of its obligations and was properly terminated from the project consistent with the terms of the construction agreement.”

Armando Codina also provided a statement noting the Grycon lawsuit is the first time his firm has been involved in construction litigation during his 42-year history in the real estate industry.

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“Codina Partners has an undisputed reputation for having fair and honest business relationships with its vendors, contractors, and customers, and we hold all our partners to the same standards,” Codina said. “We hold our integrity paramount, stand by our actions in this case, and fully intend to see this through.”

In his ruling, the judge found that 5350 Park’s defenses that Grycon allegedly caused construction delays, and that the condominium was not substantially completed when the termination occurred, did not jive with the facts.

For instance, 5350 Park fired Grycon on May 29, 2020, the same day the developer obtained a final certificate of occupancy for the 19-story, 251-unit tower, according to Thomas’ order. Codina Partners had also begun closings in February 2020, which included buyers signing documents that their units were completed, Thomas also noted.

“5350 [Park] could not identify what work remained at termination and produced less than a small handful of punch lists of units walked after termination,” Thomas wrote.

During the trial, Codina Partners President and COO Andy Burnham testified that Grycon did such a lousy job, that he noticed cracking drywall throughout the interiors of the new building, Thomas’ order states. “I was embarrassed to walk people through these corridors and get to their unit with the amount of cracking in the drywall,” Burnham testified, according to the order.

Thomas said he did not find Burnham’s statement “to be credible” because the Codina executive admitted the unit owner acceptance sheets that buyers signed stated that mostly “minor, incidental, immaterial items were left to be corrected.”

5350 Park is the third completed condominium project at Downtown Doral, a massive mixed-use community master developed by Codina Partners. Prices at 5350 Park started in the $200,000s when sales launched in 2016. The company plans to build five more condo buildings in Downtown Doral.