The price of Brickell dirt keeps rising, even for land tied up in bankruptcy cases.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurel M. Isicoff in Miami on Tuesday approved the $21.5 million sale of Miami developer Renzo Renzi’s Brickell-area land to Watson Investigations LLC. The Coral Gables company has until July 30 to close on the acquisition of the 33,927-square-foot site at the corner of Southeast Eighth Street and First Avenue.
Hinshaw & Culbertson partner Steven Carlyle Cronig is identified in state corporate records as Watson’s manager. Firm partner Charles M. Tatelbaum appeared on the company’s behalf during Tuesday’s hearing. He declined to disclose Watson’s principals but noted Cronig has represented them in “numerous” transactions over the last five years.
If the transaction closes, the secured creditor in the Chapter 7 cases involving two Renzi-managed companies would be fully repaid. The creditor, a trust tied to Miami-based Crescent Heights Inc., holds an $18.2 million foreclosure judgment against the Renzi companies. The July 30 closing deadline is necessary to avoid a foreclosure auction scheduled the following day.
Crescent also is set to receive $5.2 million for a partial assignment of a foreclosure judgment secured by 1.3 acres on Coral Way that is not part of the proposed sale.
The pending sale to Watson comes after the failure of a proposed $19.5 million sale to Crystal Tower on Brickell Plaza LLC. Three Carlton Fields attorneys representing Crystal filed an emergency motion Friday to withdraw as the company’s counsel. Shareholder John Lamoureux said the company has provided a termination notice to cancel its purchase and sale agreement.
Isicoff approved the request on the condition that Crystal hires a new attorney within 48 hours.
After the hearing, Lamoureux declined to disclose to the Daily Business Review why the attorneys could not continue to represent Crystal. He referred questions to the company managed by Omar Botero. Calls to Botero were not returned by deadline.
In approving the sale agreement, Isicoff lauded Chapter 7 trustees Drew Dillworth and Joel Tabas for “reasonable and appropriate” business judgment.
The Brickell ownership companies, Beacon Developer Partners LLC and Beacon at Brickell Village LLC, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation last month.
Renzi and his brother Pasquale had big plans for the site before the condo market crashed. They developed such South Florida condominium projects as The Sail and Emerald Plaza during the condo building boom.
Their highly leveraged strategy fell apart in 2008 when real estate values began falling, and they began surrendering properties to lenders in lieu of foreclosure. Since then, they have been fighting off foreclosure by filing for personal and corporate bankruptcies.
Renzo Renzi filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy in March 2011, citing less than $50,000 in assets and $10 million to $50 million in debt in his handwritten petition.