In the Surf Club deal, Fort Capital wasn’t even the highest bidder. But sensitivity to the emotional issues — combined with a genuine interest in preserving and restoring the club — won out.
“For the members, there is a lot more to this than just a financial transaction,” said James Lucchese, the club’s president and a proprietor member. “Nadim’s group was not the highest bidder, but when you take into account of what Achi is willing to do, it’s the best offer.’’ Under the deal, members will still be able to use the social club.”
The density envisioned for the condo hotel project is well below that permitted for the property, which was a plus for the growth-sensitive town of Surfside.
In September, the club members voted overwhelmingly to support the deal. In October, the project was approved by the Surfside town commission. It also has gotten approval from the historic preservation authorities.
The investor group acquiring the club, SC Property Acquisition LLC, includes Achi himself; the Koç Group, which is a prominent Turkish conglomerate with operations including automobile manufacturing, energy, consumer goods and finance, and several wealthy Brazilian and Peruvian families.
The transaction is expected to close in November.
Achi said he intends to hang on to the Surf Club, not merely to develop it.
“I approach it as a long-term investor that wants to own that asset,” he said. “It’s not, ‘How can I maximize the development?’ That was my genuine interest and I was dealing with very smart people.”
While the Surf Club may be the most famed property in Fort Capital’s holdings, the most infamous is Norman’s Cay, a private island in Exuma in the Bahamas. It was once a landing strip for Colombian drug kingpin Carlos Lehder.
In 2012, Fort Capital acquired much of the island from the government of the Bahamas, with plans to develop an exclusive hotel and residential project. “We have submitted plans to the government for approval to start the project,” Achi said.
Achi said the tiny island still has its own landing strip and he anticipates the planned resort will be able to offer international immigration and customs clearance. “The main advantage is you can fly in on your own plane and be home rather than go through customs. You save a step.”