Michael Stern pays $24M for future site of 62-story Brickell tower

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Michael Stern and a rendering of the project (Getty, JDS Development/SHoP Archictects)

Michael Stern and a rendering of the project (Getty, JDS Development/SHoP Archictects)

UPDATED, Nov. 25, 9:45 p.m.: Developer Michael Stern closed on an assemblage of properties in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood where he plans to build a 62-story tower, The Real Deal has learned. 

Stern, who leads New York-based JDS Development Group, paid $9 million for property at 191 Southwest 12th Street. The seller is a company tied to John Polit. Stern also bought adjacent land from Choice Hotels for $14.5 million. 

Stern will demolish the existing building on the property and build a new fire station, plus a 1,400-unit mixed-use project that will encompass 1,000 rental apartments, 200 micro-units, a 200-key hotel, 250,000 square feet of office space and a new $8 million fire station. 

Adrian Sanchez, of Waterfront Investment Real Estate, represented both the seller and the buyer in the $9 million deal. The property last sold for $4.2 million in 2014. Records show that a four-story, 12-unit multifamily building built in 1971 is currently on the property. 

Earlier this year, a company tied to Alain Lantigua sued Stern, alleging he reneged on a $10 million assignment fee for legwork to obtain the zoning approvals for the development. Lantigua’s plan originally was to buy 191 Southwest 12th Street in order to flip the land to Stern for the fee. Lantigua is principal of Crystal Clear Holdings and Harlequin Property Management, according to his LinkedIn. The lawsuit is still open, according to court records.

The lawsuit identifies the property seller as a company tied to Polit, son of former Ecuadorian official Carlos Polit, who was given a six-year prison sentence in 2018 for allegedly collecting a $10.1 million bribe from a Brazilian construction firm. John Polit was given three years for being an accomplice. Earlier this year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into Polit, a former Merrill Lynch employee, related to activities in Ecuador.

In July, Stern filed court documents denying the lawsuit’s accusations, alleging that no such contract was formed between the two parties, and that Lantigua failed to close on adjoining property and “to perform under the Public Benefit Agreement.”

“In truth, Plaintiff conferred no benefit and was unable to bring the project to fruition by its own power and now seeks to profit off these failures by suing those that could bring the project to completion,” according to the documents.

In late February, the Miami City Commission approved a public benefits agreement with an affiliate of Stern’s JDS Development Group that allows Stern to build the $500 million tower on the fire station site and an adjoining property that he purchased last year.

As part of the deal, the city will get roughly $2.2 million in cash for fire station equipment, about $5.4 million in public benefits and $200,000 in streetscape improvements, and will pay for the renovations to the park and the transfer of development density rights, according to the public benefits agreement.

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