A Duane Morris team in Miami worked under a tight deadline to close the $42 million purchase of a 70-acre vacant tract in west Miami-Dade County.
Duane Morris partner Jay Steinman and special counsel Ralph Moreno represented the buyer who purchased the property from West Kendall Holdings LLC, registered to The Howard Hughes Corp. The deal closed Dec. 22.
They declined to disclose the buyer except to give the name of the limited liability company used to buy the land, KTC SW 88 ST LLC.
Plans are unknown for the property between West Kendall Baptist Hospital and Kendall Drive and between Southwest 158th and 162nd avenues.
A mixed-use development including offices and retail is allowed, Moreno said. The buyer, however, hasn’t decided what to develop, Steinman added.
But this much is known: The property has development potential given that it’s a large tract in a growing area.
“I don’t know if there are 70 acres of contiguous property in Miami-Dade County available, so this is clearly a tremendous potential opportunity for our client,” Steinman said.
He and Moreno worked through the challenge of this deal, which was to review all documents associated with the land as well as the allowed uses and other paperwork — and do it all within the seller’s tight time to close by the end of 2017.
The negotiations started in June, giving attorneys about six months to complete their work, Steinman said.
Land development deals take longer when the buyer “needs to do its due diligence, needs to be comfortable with the permitting, needs to be comfortable with the use,” Steinman said. “That was not what the seller would allow. So it was a very compressed time period for this type of deal.”
If all the work weren’t finished in time, the buyer would have lost the deal, he added.
“It was the art of making the deal happen,” Steinman said. “We had a seller who had certain restrictions in requirements. We had a buyer who saw a tremendous opportunity and wanted to make the deal happen. We spent a lot of time negotiating the contract, dealing with issues and due diligence. The due diligence was fairly complicated.”
The paperwork they had to review was about 4 inches thick, he added.
“There was an extensive amount of title and land use materials … which we had to review and confirm that they did not unduly prohibit or impair our client’s ability to develop the property in the future,” Moreno said.
The property was part of a larger tract that received development approval in 2001. Over time, pieces of the tract were sold for different projects including West Kendall Baptist Hospital, which opened in 2011.
The larger tract was a development of regional impact called Kendall Town Center. It’s unknown why the remaining 70 acres stayed idle, Moreno and Steinman said.
The Howard Hughes Corp. is a Dallas-based company grown and expanded by Howard Hughes Jr., who was known for his endeavors in aviation and Hollywood, but he also invested in real estate.
In June 1996, the Hughes real estate company merged with The Rouse Co., according to the Hughes company website. Rouse was bought by General Growth Properties Inc. in 2004. The Hughes arm is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
It was most likely The Rouse Co. that worked on obtaining the development approval for the land in 2001, Steinman said.
The broker on the 70-acre deal was NAI Miami, a Pinecrest-based real estate services firm.
On the buyer’s side, state corporate records list the company’s principals as Robert Eckstein, Edward Schmidt, Josh Rodstein and Jeremy Larkin. Eckstein, Schmidt and Larkin are principals with NAI Miami Property Management LLC in Pinecrest. Eckstein, Rodstein and Schmidt are principals with Kendall Town Center Association Inc., which dates back to 2007.
The Howard Hughes Corp. was represented by in-house attorney Jim Moomaw, senior assistant and general counsel for real estate.