A Miami-Dade circuit judge erred when she ordered a Brickell Key developer to turn over to a condominium association the parking spaces and storage areas it assigned to an unsold penthouse, a Third District Court of Appeal panel said.
“The ruling means we get our parking spaces back,” said appellant attorney Helio De La Torre of Siegfried, Rivera, Lerner, De La Torre & Sobel in Coral Gables. “It’s a very significant opinion.”
Judge Marcia Caballero in February told Courvoisier Courts LLC specifically to surrender 17 parking spaces, 10 storage spaces and 35 limited common areas to the association.
But her decision affected 215 total spaces the developer sold after it turned over control of the association to unit owners in July 2006.
“The lower court ruling said basically that all the assignments made since the turnover were invalid,” De La Torre said.
The condo association’s attorneys, Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske partner Gary Brown and associate Joanna Thomson in Fort Lauderdale, were still considering their options, including asking for a rehearing, Brown said.
“I’m disappointed, obviously,” he said.
The 28-story Courvoisier Courts, at 701 Brickell Key Drive, was built in 1997 and contains 272 one-, two- and three-bedroom units as well as two-story penthouses.
The declaration of condominium stated that the association would be given any parking spaces and storage areas left unassigned after the developer sold all its units, the Third District noted. But the association argued that another clause of the declaration meant Courvoisier Courts had to yield the spaces at the same time it turned over control.
“Such an interpretation, however, is untenable,” wrote Third District Judge Barbara Lagoa, joined in the Dec. 19 opinion by Chief Judge Linda Ann Wells and Judge Frank Shepherd.
“We hold that the limited common elements at issue did not become the property of the association upon turnover,” Lagoa continued. “The developer retained the right to assign the exclusive use of the limited common elements until such time as it had ‘sold all units owned by it.’ “
The panel reversed Caballero’s partial final summary judgment in favor of the condo association and ordered her to enter one instead for Courvoisier Courts.
De La Torre’s team included fellow firm shareholder Laura M. Manning-Hudson and H. Hugh McConnell, of counsel.