Under court threat, Venezuela resumes paying Miami consulate rent
By Rachel Tannenbaum
Two months after one of Miami's veteran developers threatened to sue the Venezuelan government for back rent, the lawsuit has been dropped.
The Venezuelan Consulate at 1101 Brickell Ave. pulled out of Miami in February. After the consulate refused to pay January and February's rent, Tibor Hollo, chairman and president of Florida East Coast Realty, said he was going to sue the Venezuelan government.
Now, however, the consulate has resumed paying rent, Mr. Hollo said.
"They are paid up-to-date and they said they are going to honor the lease," Mr. Hollo said. "They said they were going to send the funds and indeed they did."
Just a year after the consulate signed a ten-year lease, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced in January that he would close Venezuela's Miami diplomatic hub after Miami Consul General Livia Acosta Noguera was expelled from the US following an FBI investigation over allegations that she was involved in a potential cyber attack on the US government.
Joseph L. Rebak, managing partner at Tew Cardenas LLP, who was not involved but focuses on business and real estate litigation, said the developer and the consulate probably worked out the disputes to avoid uncertainties and the cost of litigation.
The Venezuelan Consulate occupies 7,940 square feet on the third floor at 1101 Brickell and pays in the upper $20s per square foot, said Brian Gale, managing director of Taylor & Mathis, building leasing agent.
Before signing the ten-year lease, he said, the consulate had been in the building about ten years prior.
Florida East Coast purchased 1101 Brickell from Lev Leviev's Africa-Israel Properties and Boymelgreen Developers LLC in July 2009. Government entity Banco de Desarollo Economico y Social de Venezuela had sold the property to a Leviev Boymelgreen joint entity in 2005.
Florida East Coast planned at the time of purchase to invest about $12 million to renovate the property without financing from a third party, according to a company statement.
Recent renovations and upgrades include updating ten elevator cabs with state-of-the art microprocessors, recirculating chilled water and adding new chillers to the air conditioners, new emergency elevations, and new efficient fixtures and bulbs.
According to its website, 1101 Brickell sits on 3.2 acres — a whole block — bounded by Brickell Avenue, Brickell Bay Drive and Southwest 11th and 12th streets.
There are two towers — one 19 stories, the other 11 — with 301,000 gross square feet. The complex includes a ten-story, 550-space garage. The north and south lobbies on Brickell Avenue lead to dining, banking and shopping options.
Founded 55 years ago by Mr. Hollo, Florida East Coast says it has built more than 55 million square feet of single-family homes, residential and commercial high-rises, government buildings, marinas, retail centers, warehouse complexes and telecommunications centers.
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