The opponents of the new Prive at Island Estates in Aventura agreed to pay $21.6 million to the developers of the luxury condominium under a settlement ending a five-year legal battle.
The Williams Island Property Owners’ Association Inc. and the project developers reached the settlement Feb. 27, following a jury verdict on Jan. 30 saying the association was on the hook for $26 million for its opposition to the project.
The 16-story, twin-tower Prive condo with 160 units was finished in January and is the only development on an 8-acre island that connects by bridge to South Island, an enclave of 22 single-family homes. Another bridge connects South Island to Williams Island, an affluent community of luxury residences including the Bellini tower and the Mediterranean Village.
The Williams Island association paid Prive $1 million as soon as the settlement was reached and $80,000 to developer Gary Cohen’s trust, according to the settlement. The remaining $20.5 million is due March 30.
The settlement “gives us everything we wanted and everything we fought so hard for in the lawsuits,” said the developer’s attorney, Glen Waldman of Waldman Barnett in Miami. Colleagues Eleanor Barnett and Jeffrey Lam also were on the legal team.
Kenny Nachwalter shareholders Jeffrey Foreman, Richard Critchlow, Deborah Sampieri Corbishley and Elizabeth Brooks Honkonen represented the association. They didn’t return a request for comment by deadline.
The Williams Island association sued Cohen in 2013 claiming he had no right to develop a condominium on the island because zoning allowed only single-family homes and a vested rights agreement to develop wasn’t valid.
Cohen since then partnered with BH3 to form Prive Developers LLC, which sued the association. The crux of its claim is that a 1982 agreement prohibited Williams Island from objecting to development of the Prive site and from encouraging others to object.
The agreement was between Cohen’s father, Norman Cohen, and Williams Island Associates, from which the Williams Island association inherited the agreement, Waldman said.
The jury in its Jan. 30 verdict agreed the association breached the no-objection agreement.
Since then, the Kenny Nachwalter team argued the case never should have gone to a jury and a judge should have decided whether the 1982 agreement was violated, according to a Feb. 14 court filing.
The attorneys argued the agreement not to object wasn’t binding on future landowners and, despite this agreement, Williams Island had the right to sue based on litigation privilege, according to court filings.
The Kenny Nachwalter attorneys asked for a decrease of the $26 million jury award either to $540,476 in general conditions costs or to $12.6 million, which would include general condition and financing damages, according to the Feb. 14 motion for remittitur.
The lawsuit between the Prive developer and the Williams Island association is one of several battles over the project that played out in court.
Separately, the developer still is arguing in court that four South Island residents tried to stop Prive by maliciously spreading information that the condo project wouldn’t be built and Cohen didn’t have the right to build it, according to court records.
Those allegations are part of a larger lawsuit the developer filed against some South Island property owners.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jerald Bagley in 2016 dismissed the entire lawsuit. The Third District Court of Appeal on Jan. 24 for the most part agreed with the trial court but overturned the dismissal of the developer’s count alleging some South Island residents spread malicious and false information.