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Liebman v. City of Miami

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

July 17, 2019

Francine Liebman, et al., Appellants,
v.
The City of Miami, et al., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, William Thomas, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 17-13687

          Dubbin & Kravetz, LLP, and Samuel J. Dubbin, P.A.; Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A., and Richard J. Ovelmen, Justin S. Wales and Dorothy C. Kafka, for appellants.

          Victoria Méndez, City Attorney, and Christopher A. Green, Senior Assistant City Attorney, and John A. Greco, Deputy City Attorney; Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., and Eugene E. Stearns, Maria A. Fehretdinov, Jason S. Koslowe, and David T. Coulter, for appellees.

          Before EMAS, C.J., and LINDSEY and MILLER, JJ.

          OPINION

          EMAS, C.J.

         INTRODUCTION

         Appellants Francine Liebman ("Liebman"), Jorge Mursuli ("Mursuli"), Daniel Suarez ("Suarez"), and Willy Bermello ("Bermello") (collectively, "appellants") filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City of Miami ("the City"). Appellants challenged Flagstone Island Gardens, LLC's ("Flagstone") mixed-use development on City-owned property, on the basis that the underlying lease agreements violated provisions of the City of Miami Charter. Flagstone later intervened in the action, and the City and Flagstone moved to dismiss for lack of standing. In the instant appeal, appellants seek review of the trial court's order dismissing the second amended complaint for lack of standing. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

         In February 2001, the City issued a request for proposals for a mixed-use development of City-owned property on Watson Island. Flagstone was the successful bidder on the project. Voters later approved Flagstone's proposal, as required by the City Charter, and the City and Flagstone then executed an Agreement to Enter Ground Lease, to be effective January 1, 2003.

         Thereafter, however, Flagstone was unable to secure financing or commence the project. As a result, the City passed Resolution 10-0402, authorizing execution of an Amended and Restated Amended Agreement to Enter Ground Lease ("Amended Lease"). The Amended Lease allowed Flagstone to develop the site in phases rather than as an integrated development project.

         From 2011 to 2014, the City passed a series of resolutions purporting to reaffirm and ratify the changes adopted in Resolution 10-0402 and to provide new deadlines, modifications, and consents to the development project. The City did not obtain new appraisals or adjust the minimum annual guaranteed base rent to conform to fair market value in 2010 or thereafter.

         On May 30, 2014, the City and Flagstone entered into an Amended and Restated Ground Lease for the Marina Component of the Project ("Marina Lease") and nearly two years later, in August 2016, the parties entered into an Amended and Restated Ground Lease for the Retail/Parking Component ("Retail/Parking Lease"). However, Flagstone failed to commence construction of the Retail/Parking component by the agreed-upon deadline.[2]

         On June 8, 2017, City residents Liebman, Mursuli, and Suarez sued the City, alleging that the City violated sections 3(f)(iii)(b), 29-A, 29-B, and 29-C of the City Charter when it amended and re-enacted amendments to the Flagstone project and entered into the Marina Lease and Retail/Parking Lease. The second amended complaint ("Complaint") added Bermello (who is not a City resident) as a plaintiff. Bermello was a principal and the president of an entity that was an equity ...


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