Construction halted at Malaysian developer’s North Bay Village condo tower
Thirteen liens and one lawsuit have been filed against the developer, Pacific & Orient Properties, which was working on the city’s first new condo tower in a decade
Construction of North Bay Village’s first new condo tower in a decade has halted, more than 14 floors up.
Workers have been absent from the job site since December, and more than a dozen liens have been placed against the developer, Pacific & Orient Properties, The Real Deal has learned. The 21-story, 54-unit building, named after its address at 7918 West Drive, was expected to be completed in the first half of next year.
Just two days after Christmas, Thornton Residential, the general contractor, placed a lien for nearly $7 million in allegedly unpaid work, records show. Liens were also filed by subcontractors ranging from plumbing and concrete to job site safety. In mid-January, a cooling company seeking about $79,000 filed a lawsuit against the developer.
In a letter that North Bay Village staff sent to the commission in January, the city said the site superintendent notified the city that construction was shut down just before the holidays. “They hope to start things up again sometime in January 2024, but that timeframe is flexible,” the city wrote. “We were not provided a reason for their stopping construction.”
Construction has stalled for some South Florida projects in recent years, in part due to the rising cost of financing, supplies, labor and delays associated with construction.
North Bay Village residents flooded a Facebook group last month to express their concerns over the future of the project and safety in the immediate area. Mayor Brent Latham said he has never had direct contact with the developer, which secured its approvals before his term began in 2018. Latham isn’t worried, though.
“I don’t anticipate it will remain unfinished because there are multiple parties who have expressed interest in purchasing the site,” he told TRD, declining to name prospective buyers. “We’re out of land in North Bay Village.”
He said the developer has remained up to date with the city in terms of payments for overtime police and the rental of parking spaces.
Thye Seng Chan, CEO of Pacific & Orient Properties, is in Malaysia and was not available for comment, according to a representative who answered the phone at the sales center. His public relations firm said its “services have been paused.” A representative for Pacific & Orient did not respond to a LinkedIn message for comment.
Chan has been working on plans for the project for almost a decade. The developer paid $8.3 million for the 0.8-acre site in 2015. Construction was set to begin in 2018, but the firm broke ground a year ago.
In August, Pacific & Orient tapped Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty to handle sales of the project after the brokerage presold some of the units. Presales soft-launched when construction began in February of last year. Prices range from $2 million to more than $17 million. Units are expected to range from about 1,700 square feet to just over 7,000 square feet.
The quiet town, sandwiched between Miami and Miami Beach, has attracted billionaire developers in recent years. “I don’t think you would have to look far,” to find prospective buyers for the 7918 West Drive site,” the mayor said.
The Ansin family’s Sunbeam Properties, led by CEO Andy Ansin, plans a major mixed-use development north and south of the 79th Street Causeway, which bisects the town. Harry Macklowe’s Macklowe Properties and Related Group are also working on an assemblage on Harbor Island, which includes the litigious buyout of a waterfront co-op called Biscayne Sea Club. The developers began closing on units last year.
MTTR mgmt is the architect designing 7918 West Drive. Tokyo-based One Designs Co. was tapped to design the lobby. The building is set to include a Zen garden, yoga spaces and a communal gourmet chef’s kitchen, the developer said during a meeting last year. The building will include a 148-space parking garage, 16 storage units and 15,000 square feet of common space.
The project marks Pacific & Orient’s first in North Bay Village. The company, with offices in Kuala Lumpur, London and Bangkok, is part of the Pacific & Orient Group conglomerate. It has holdings in insurance, information technology, lending and start-ups.