The wheels had already fallen off a partnership between two major developers who wanted to build a 10-story condo tower next to a high-profile luxury car dealership in Coral Gables.
Now the stalled project, the Collection Residences, will grind its gears in court.
Developer Masoud Shojaee has filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court accusing his former partner, Ugo Colombo, of attempting to “sabotage” the project and “unfairly enriching” himself at Shojaee’s expense. The suit alleges breach of contract.
As well as developing luxury condo towers, Colombo owns the Collection, a dealership that sells Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin and other luxury brands, driving $500 million in sales in 2014. The condo project at 250 Bird Rd. was to go up next door.
This is a frivolous lawsuit filed by a peculiar fellow.
Shojaee declined to comment on the deal’s collapse. But Tadd Schwartz, a spokesman for Colombo, said the Italian-born developer dismissed the suits’ claims.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit filed by a peculiar fellow,” Colombo said in a statement provided by Schwartz.
Shojaee had already dropped out of the Collection Residences late last year. He said it had nothing to do with with market conditions and that he needed to “terminate” his relationship with his partner.
Now Shojaee is alleging that Colombo broke their contract: The 114-page lawsuit details a power struggle between Colombo’s CMC Group and Shojaee’s Shoma Group over whether the condo project should include retail space and a basement parking garage.
The suit says that Colombo wanted to buy the shopping area and the parking spaces at a cut-rate price to bolster his business at the Collection.
When Shojaee refused his offer, the suit says that Colombo unilaterally closed down the project’s sales office and website, canceled marketing events and fired brokers who had been hired to sell units and retail space.
$27 Price Colombo and Shojaee paid for 2.8-acre site.
Shojaee is claiming lost profits and damages, saying he invested millions of dollars into the project, including $27 million that the joint venture spent on the 2.8-acre site in 2013. He also wants employees of the Collection to stop parking cars in what he says is space that belongs to his company.
Jason Giller, a lawyer for Colombo, called the lawsuit “nonsense.”
In a statement, Giller wrote: “A few months ago, Mr. Shojaee announced that he was ‘dropping’ the project. It now seems that he suffers from dropper’s remorse. It is nonsense for Shoma to seek injunctive relief to remove a few cars from a warehouse leased and paid for by the Collection.”
Developers frequently find themselves in court, and the cases sometimes get personal.
“There’s always people suing each other here,” said Fabiana Pimenta, a broker at Fortune International Realty who is unaffiliated with the Collection and its developers.
You’d be surprised what buyers can forget.
Fabiana Pimenta, broker
If the dust ever clears and one of the developers does end up building the project, she said sales could still be strong.
Said Pimenta: “You’d be surprised what buyers can forget.”