Venezuelas Miami Landlord Threatens Suit
By Rachel Tannenbaum
Just before the Venezuelan Consulate pulled out of Miami, it signed a long-term lease at 1101 Brickell, and now one of the city’s veteran developers is suing the Venezuelan government for back rent.
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 after an FBI investigation over allegations that she was involved in a potential cyber-attack on the US government.
The Venezuelan Consulate occupies 7,940 square feet on the third floor at 1101 Brickell and paid 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.
The consulate has yet to pay rent for January or February, which has brought the building’s owner toward legal action against the Venezuelan government.
"They haven’t paid rent. We plan on suing them," said Tibor Hollo, chairman and president of Florida East Coast Realty. "They left the office with everything in it — the furniture is still all there."
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 12th and 11th 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 parking 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 Realty says it has since 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.