Bid request to begin soon for Surfside collapse site

Preliminary indication is the site is 1.9 acres, according to Avison Young

The lot where the former Champlain Towers South once stood (Getty)
The lot where the former Champlain Towers South once stood (Getty)

An offering memorandum for the Surfside condominium collapse site could be ready within a month, as Avison Young smooths out zoning and other details for the former Champlain Towers South property.

In the meantime, an appraiser is determining the fair market value of each of the units, as a way to hammer out disbursements to survivors and victims’ families from the future sale.

Avison Young’s planned offering memorandum for 8777 Collins Avenue is the latest development in the tug-of-war over the site’s future. It puts more of a damper on previous calls to dedicate the entire site for a memorial.

The plan for an offering memorandum was revealed at a Wednesday morning court conference on lawsuits filed in the aftermath of the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South more than a month ago. The calamity killed 98. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed, mostly against the condo association.

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“Everyone is starting to realize the way to get the maximum amount of money for victims is a private sale,” said Rodney Barreto, a Miami businessman who is working on a pitch to governments to facilitate a memorial. “I think that’s kind of where it’s headed, to be honest.”

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, who is presiding over the lawsuits, has said a fair market property sale is needed to supplement the roughly $48 million in Champlain liability and property insurance, which is not enough to cover payouts.

A few weeks ago, Hanzman picked Avison Young to market the property as well as Barreto and Manual Kadre, another Miami businessman, to handle the government relations aspect of the site’s future. All, including the attorneys working on the suits, are working pro bono.

The only way for the entire property to become a memorial is if a government or a private donor were to step up to buy it at fair market value without the intention to develop it. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine have expressed interest in participating in creating a memorial, but neither the state nor the county has the funds, Barreto said.

Initial appraisals of the property put its value somewhere from $110 million to $130 million, it was previously revealed in court.

Avison Young is in the midst of hammering out the sale procedure, including how a stalking horse bidder setting the minimum purchase price would be selected, said Avison Young’s Michael Fay. The brokerage also is collecting the names of potential developers who have expressed interest in buying the property.

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Avison still is gathering full zoning information, but the preliminary indication is that the site is roughly 1.9 acres, Fay said. The offering is expected to be issued in about 30 days.

Michael Fay of Avison Young

Michael Fay of Avison Young

Fay, who is leading the team exclusively marketing the site, is working with Avison’s John Crotty, David Duckworth and Brian de la Fé.

Fay declined to disclose the identities of interested buyers or how many have reached out, only saying the team has not even started the sale process and is already getting calls daily.

Michael Goldberg, the Hanzman-appointed receiver overseeing financial matters on behalf of the association, on Wednesday said he has hired an appraisal firm to determine the value of the units, in part based on their size and the oceanfront views they offered.

It is uncertain whether disbursements will be based on this appraisal, as Hanzman has instructed Goldberg to speak with victims to gauge their stance on how payouts should be determined.

Goldberg, an attorney with Akerman, and Paul Singerman of Berger Singerman, who represents Goldberg in the cases, have to approve the offering memorandum before it is put out, Fay said.

The timeline to sell the property once it is offered to buyers remains unknown, he added.

Ultimately, the sale price depends on the property’s future use, meaning that it would generate more if sold for a higher and denser project.

“We want to have as much zoning as possible,” Fay said, “to create the highest value and the greatest optionality and flexibility.”