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Developer sues Miami Parking Authority over downtown land deal

The Miami Parking authority is being sued by developer Moishe Mana over a deal it made to lease downtown Miami land to a rival company.
The Miami Parking authority is being sued by developer Moishe Mana over a deal it made to lease downtown Miami land to a rival company. Miami Herald Staff

Developer Moishe Mana is suing the Miami Parking Authority over a deal it made to lease downtown Miami land to a rival company.

In a civil suit filed Wednesday, Mana alleges that the semi-autonomous city agency didn’t properly notify his firm and others interested in the land about the bidding process. In addition, the suit claims that MPA chief Art Noriega awarded the project to Grand Station Partners because he is friends with one of its executives, Oscar Rodriguez. Mana is asking a Miami-Dade county judge to throw out the deal.

“MPA simply created a bid procedure that did not comply with the basic legislative requirements and did not insure [sic] equal treatment of and for all potential bidders as required by law,” the suit states.

In an interview, an attorney for Grand Station responded by calling the lawsuit “frivolous allegations from someone crying over spilt milk.”

“The process has been almost 14 months long and Mr. Mana’s proposal was vetted thoroughly,” said Robert Burlington of the law firm Coffey Burlington, which is representing Grand Station. “He didn’t come forward with as good a proposal as Oscar’s and the entire MPA board recognized that. This wasn’t Mr. Noriega’s decision alone.”

The dispute centers on a parcel of land at 240 N. Miami Ave., Miami, across the street from the federal courthouse.

The MPA owns a parking garage on the property and agreed to lease the site’s remaining vacant land, totaling about 37,000 square feet, to Grand Station Partners. The developer had submitted an unsolicited bid for the land in January. Mana learned of the bid and submitted his own proposal. But on Tuesday, the MPA board voted to approve Grand Station’s offer to build a 33-story rental tower and an expansion for the parking garage, Miami Today reported.

The next day, Mana’s attorney Bruce Fischman filed the suit in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. Mana has been snapping up downtown properties in recent months and two weeks ago announced plans for a massive tech-arts hub in Wynwood.

He owns a 14,300-square-foot lot next to the parking authority’s property and wanted to develop the sites in tandem. Because the combined property would have been larger than Grand Station’s plan, Mana said he could have provided more public parking spaces.

But his suit alleges that the parking authority didn’t allow a fair bidding process because it failed to publish notices in a newspaper for two weeks, as required by law, informing the public that it had received an unsolicited bid for the property. The suit also says MPA didn’t answer questions it posed about the bid.

The parking authority did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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