Real Estate News

Jockey Club residents sue developer over construction plans

A luxury development is unfolding in unincorporated Miami-Dade near North Miami, and it’s been dubbed Apeiron, meaning “without limits” in ancient Greek.

But it’s not entirely without limits, it seems.

More than 250 families who live in towers One and Two of the Jockey Club, located at 11111 Biscayne Blvd., filed a lawsuit this week against Apeiron Miami, which bought 13 acres of land in the gated community in 2014. Apeiron is planning to build a 240-unit residential and 90-room boutique hotel development on the land.

But according to the lawsuit, plans for the new structures violate existing agreements from 1977 and 1995 that restrict development of common areas of the 22-acre Jockey Club, where there are 411 units in three residential buildings and recreational common areas. The suit claims that the condo association of Jockey Club Tower Three was “bought off” by Apeiron to the tune of $10 million to “acquiesce to its impermissible development plans.”

With the lawsuit, residents hope to permanently block additional development, which also includes plans for a yacht marina and a 5-acre “health and wellness center.”

In response to the suit, John Shubin of Shubin & Bass, which is representing Apeiron, said, “Without getting too complicated, [the agreements] are old and stale restrictions which no longer have legal force and effect.”

Glen Waldman of Heller Waldman, attorney for the suing families, retorted, “Well, the Constitution is old, too. But it’s still a pretty solid document.”

Waldman said he is “very confident” the agreements will be upheld and the development will be blocked, despite the fact that Apeiron legally owns 13 acres of the contested land.

“There is land for sale but whether you can take it and do what you want with it is a whole other ball game,” said Waldman, who is no stranger to these kinds of tussles. In 2015, he represented residents of Grove Isle who were fighting to stop a project by veteran developer Eduardo Avila. He won the case.

In a past life, the Jockey Club was a popular nightlife spot with bars, a restaurant and disco dancing. Today, it’s wound the party down as a gated residential community that is home to local families and longtime South Florida dwellers who use condos as winter havens. Many of these residents are seniors.

“It’s really an impediment to their quality of life, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent. They’re elderly and they bargained for a certain quality of life,” back in the ’70s when the first agreement to prevent development of common areas was established, Waldman said.

There are no subsequent agreements that invalidate the initial agreements, he emphasized.