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Privé developers secure financing, despite pending litigation

Work is underway at Privé at Island Estates, despite pending litigation to block the construction of the two proposed condo towers in Aventura. A trial date has been set for Nov. 19.
Work is underway at Privé at Island Estates, despite pending litigation to block the construction of the two proposed condo towers in Aventura. A trial date has been set for Nov. 19.

The developers of a proposed condominium project on an Aventura island said they have secured up to $200 million in financing, despite a lawsuit clouding whether the project can be built.

Privé at Island Estate’s developers, Gary Cohen and BH3, said they have received $250 million through deposits on sales of more than half of the project’s 160 units. With financing from New York-based Maxim Capital — which will begin with an advance of $25 million and go up to $200 million — project executives are saying the two-tower project should be completed by 2017.

Not so fast, say homeowners living on a neighboring island, who are suing the developers and the city of Aventura, contending the developers don’t have the right to build on the site, an eight-acre vacant island in the Intracoastal Waterway in Aventura. The homeowners, in their suit, allege the city of Aventura approved a single-family home community, not the condo towers.

The issue: The city of Aventura has insisted the developers build a sidewalk on Island Estates — where the homeowners live — to deal with increased pedestrian traffic. The proposed condo towers are connected by bridge to Island Estates. The homeowners contend the sidewalk has been built on their land illegally.

“Anyone who has money in Privé is at risk because a court has determined that there are legitimate issues about whether Mr. Cohen has the right to build this project,” said Susan Raffanello, an attorney for the homeowners.

On Friday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jerald Bagley ruled the dispute between the homeowners and the developers will have to be decided in a trial. While Bagley found that Cohen had “vested rights” to build on the lot, he said there were “issues of concern” whether he violated zoning and public notice procedures when he changed the plans to condominiums.

Originally, Cohen pushed for single-family homes, but in 2013, “Casas de Oro,” a cluster of 17 single-family homes changed to the Privé high-rise project.

A trial date has been set for March 7 to determine whether Privé can build on the property.

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