Rishi Kapoor’s Urbin allegedly paid Miami Mayor Francis Suarez $170K
Payments allegedly tied to securing permits for Coconut Grove co-living project
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s consulting gig with Rishi Kapoor’s Location Ventures allegedly paid him a six-figure sum.
Suarez allegedly earned at least $170,000 over the past two years to help Kapoor’s Urbin division secure permits and cut through red tape tied to a planned Coconut Grove co-living project, the Miami Herald reported.
The newspaper obtained internal records from Location Ventures, Kapoor’s Coral Gables-based development firm, that detail Suarez’s alleged assistance in getting the $70 million Coconut Grove Urbin project back on track. Company meeting notes from last year allegedly state Kapoor tried to assure project investors that Suarez would help get plans approved, the Miami Herald reported.
The company records also mentioned that Kapoor subsequently met with Suarez and Miami City Manager Art Noriega to discuss obtaining a waiver that would allow the developer to avoid an “expensive and time-consuming redesign” for Urbin Coconut Grove.
A Suarez spokesperson denied that the meeting occurred, and Kapoor’s attorney said the developer had “no record or recollection of any such meeting.”
Suarez’s side gig with Urbin was first disclosed in a May 10 Miami-Dade civil lawsuit filed against Location Ventures by the firm’s ex-CFO Greg Brooks, seeking payment of $80,000 in bonuses allegedly owed. In the complaint, Brooks alleges Kapoor committed “financial improprieties” including paying a $10,000 a month consulting fee to Suarez, but without any explanation or a written contract of what the mayor’s services entailed.
In an answer and affirmative defense, Location Ventures acknowledged the arrangement with Suarez, but refuted that no contract existed. In fact, a written contract between Suarez and Urbin was approved by the Miami City Attorney’s office, the response states.
City Attorney Victoria Mendez told The Real Deal that her office has generally opined that Suarez is allowed to have outside employment, as long it doesn’t involve city matters coming before him. But she had no recollection of reviewing the agreement with Suarez and Urbin, and said that her office had not received a copy of it.
Suarez and Kapoor claim the consulting gig is unrelated to any Location Ventures matters at the city, according to statements provided to TRD by spokespersons for the mayor and the developer.
In January, a trio of investors sued Kapoor in Miami-Dade Circuit Court to have him removed as the manager for Urbin Coconut Grove’s development entity. The lawsuit alleges Kapoor made unilateral decisions, such as extending loans by paying six-figure fees to lenders, without obtaining at least 70 percent approval from the development entity’s shareholders, as required by an operating agreement.
— Francisco Alvarado