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Florida’s governor recently signed a new bill into law, House Bill 337, limiting a local government’s ability to impose impact fees on builders and developers embarking on new residential and commercial construction projects. The law, which took effect immediately and whose limits will be applied retroactively for increases in impact fees made since January 1, 2021, aims to prevent counties from hiking up costs associated with new builds.

An impact fee is a one-time fee assessed by local governments to developers and builders to offset a new development’s impact on existing infrastructure. The rationale behind the assessment is to essentially charge a tax on new construction to defray its costs on existing vital services such as schools, parks, roads and emergency services. Think: An increase in residents and users equals more of a burden on existing infrastructure.

Onestpeterendering-300x168Unfortunately, for years developers have complained that the impact fees collected by local governments are not actually used by the municipalities for remediating the impact the new growth has on the infrastructure at all. Oftentimes, developers argue that instead of investing the impact fee funds on improvements to the existing infrastructure affected by a new project, the impact fee funds are diverted to areas not remotely impacted by the new construction and are actually squandered away on other pet projects of local governments.

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Oscar-Rivera-2014The firm’s Oscar Rivera authored an article that was featured as the “Board of Contributors” guest commentary column on the homepage of the website of the Daily Business Review, South Florida’s exclusive business daily and official court newspaper, and will soon be appearing in the newspaper’s print edition.  The article, which is titled “Caveat Emptor Still Dictates in Florida’s Courts for Real Estate Buyers,” focuses on a recent ruling by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal on the doctrine of caveat emptor, which holds that buyers are solely responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before purchase.  The decision reaffirmed that the principle still holds true in the state for real estate buyers who seek to have their property acquisitions nullified by the courts due to alleged misrepresentations and hidden defects.  Oscar’s article reads:

. . . In Florida Holding 4800 v. Lauderhill Mall Investment, Florida Holding purchased a commercial property from Lauderhill Mall, then sued the seller for alleged misrepresentations and concealments of its physical condition. The trial court entered final summary judgment in favor of the seller, concluding that the buyer’s claims were all expressly contradicted by the purchase and sale agreement that the parties had executed.

dbr-logo-300x57In the buyer’s subsequent appeal, the Fourth DCA panel found that the sale agreement stipulated it was an “as is” sale, using language that is standard for the industry. It noted that the seller made absolutely no warranties, representations or covenants to the buyer regarding the condition of the property, and the buyer acknowledged that it was purchasing the property in its “as is” condition and based solely on its own inspection, investigation and evaluation.

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In a world where ride services such as Uber and Lyft have become widespread, and electric cars are becoming extremely popular, many are asking themselves what that means for parking lots going into the future. In the past, office and retail tenants relied on serious negotiations and a series of analyses to figure out acceptable parking ratios for their stores and offices. But can we expect the same parking concerns from commercial real estate tenants in the future, or will their focus shift to other interests such as charging stations and drop-off/pick-up zones?

Parking ratios are generally established by local zoning codes. The parking ratio is a statistic commonly used to determine the number of parking spaces available for use by each commercial tenant. The total parking spaces available are divided by the property’s entire gross leasable area, with the ratio most commonly expressed per every 1,000 sq. ft. of property.

prking-300x225Most retail stores require four spaces per 1,000 sq. ft., while restaurants are typically allocated more parking spaces for every 1,000 sq. ft. These numbers can vary depending on the property type.

Besides ensuring that the correct number of parking spots are assigned, big box stores like Marshalls, Old Navy, Best Buy, and grocery stores such as Publix, serving as anchor stores, also require specific parking fields in front of their stores and demand certain parking ratio minimums. It is not uncommon for these tenants to designate protected parking areas, prohibiting landlords from ever changing, rearranging or reassigning their parking spaces, and to maintain architectural control over their parking areas.

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JCatalanoSRHL2ORivera2014Firm shareholders Oscar R. Rivera and John Catalano successfully concluded work recently on a $79 million purchase by client Bar Invest Residential 4 LLC, a Bar Invest Group division.

The transaction involved the purchase of an apartment complex known as The Landings at Pembroke Lakes, a large community located in Pembroke Pines, Florida (pictured below).  The multifamily residential rental complex houses 358 units, as well as a clubhouse with resort-style amenities.  REIT counsel at Greenberg Traurig assisted our team in the acquisition of this project, and our client obtained financing through BankUnited.

Our firm congratulates and salutes Oscar, John and their support staff for all of the hard work they put forth in completing this transaction for our client.

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ORivera2014Firm shareholders Oscar R. Rivera and John Catalano represented our clients, PM Edgartown, LLC and PM Vineyard Haven, LLC in two separate sale transactions. The first transaction involved Prime Marina Vineyard Haven’s sale, a property located on Martha’s Vineyard.  Prime Vineyard Haven has the largest set of seasonal private docks and slips available on the vineyard.  It also houses a large on-site indoor and outdoor storage facility, as well as other amenities that are made available to its members.

Additionally, our team represented their sister company, PM Edgartown, LLC, on the sale of Edgartown Marine. Edgartown Marine is also located on Martha’s Vineyard and offers a full set of storage, launch, and haul services. The transactions involved the sale of all of the assets and dockage agreements of both operating marinas.

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Steve-Siegfried-2013-srhl-lawIt is hard to believe that we are officially one year into the COVID-19 pandemic. As the entire world continues to battle the virus and adjusts to the daily changes in protocol and restrictions, our firm remains fully operational, staying up-to-date with the latest news and making decisions based on those developments.

With our staff’s, clients’, and families’ health and safety remaining of utmost importance, our firm continues to operate with a majority of our attorneys and support staff working remotely. We are happy to say that we have all remained safe during this time and the initial closures never caused any interruptions or delays in service. We have also pivoted in the way we serve our clients by upgrading our network’s infrastructure and making improvements to how we conduct business, such as enhancing our data security and offering digital document signature options as well as online notaries. Though we’ve all had to overcome our own set of challenges, we have conquered them together and have only become stronger.

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“America’s business leaders, freed from the office, looked around the country, taking note of its coronavirus lockdowns, taxes and rabble rousers. And many said as if in unison: Miami!”

That’s how a major article on the cover of the Technology section of the Jan. 29 edition of The New York Times begins. It goes on to note that several finance and technology titans as well as Silicon Valley venture capitalists are relocating to Miami, where Mayor Francis X. Suarez has rolled out the red carpet.

The article reads:

“Dozens of big names have arrived. There was a tech contingent: Keith Rabois, a PayPal co-founder and investor, and his husband. Then their friend Peter Thiel, the tech investor and prominent conservative. Jon Oringer, founder of the stock-photography provider Shutterstock, and the media mogul Bryan Goldberg. Steven Galanis, the head of the celebrity-video product Cameo, is here. Elon Musk is talking about building car tunnels under Miami.

nyt-300x193“There are also hedge funds and private equity funds. Paul Singer’s Elliott Management is moving its headquarters to the Miami area, as is Carl Icahn’s firm, Icahn Enterprises. Others are opening major Miami offices: Kenneth Griffin’s Citadel as well as Blackstone Group. Goldman Sachs is weighing moving parts of its operation to Miami.”

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Firm shareholders Oscar R. Rivera and John Catalano represented the sellers, Aligned Bayshore Marina and Aligned Bayshore Raw Bar, in the sale of Monty’s Bayshore located in Coconut Grove.  This fully leased mixed-use property features offices, retail and restaurants, including the iconic Tiki Style waterfront restaurant Monty’s Raw Bar.  The enormous property, which is pictured along the waterfront below, boasts over 30,000 square feet of retail and office space, a 111-slip marina, and a 750-seat restaurant that has been at the same location for 50 years.  The notable transaction has been covered by publications such as the Miami Herald and CityBizList.

We are proud to have represented our clients in this transaction, and our firm would like to commend Oscar, John and the supporting real estate staff on all their hard work!

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OscarRivera2014Firm co-managing partner Oscar R. Rivera co-authored the lead front cover article for the November-December issue of the American Bar Association’s Probate & Property magazine together with Travis D. Hughes of Atlanta-based Hughes Investment Partners. The article, which is titled “Navigating Early Termination Clauses in Commercial Leases,” focuses on the tolls that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Spring 2020 protests have taken on many businesses and commercial landlords.  It discusses important early termination provisions and the need to anticipate likely and unlikely future calamities in commercial leases.

Our firm salutes Oscar for sharing his insights into these timely issues impacting commercial leases with the readers of the ABA’s Probate & Property. Click below to read the complete article.

Probate & Property article

 

The recent order to halt residential evictions through Dec. 31, 2020, by the Centers for Disease Control is aimed at preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and protecting tenants impacted by the virus.  Under the order, renters of single family, multifamily and mobile home residences who earn less than $99,000 a year ($198,000 for joint filers) may submit a declaration to their landlord asserting their eligibly to be protected from eviction.

For eligibility, renters must provide a declaration form to their landlord asserting their qualifications and inability to pay, and they will not be relieved of their obligations to pay rent nor any fees or interest due to nonpayment.  In addition, residents can still be evicted for other reasons, like engaging in criminal activity, posing a health or safety risk, or damaging rental property.

cdc-300x227The order also specifically excludes foreclosures of home mortgages from the moratorium, but it is unclear whether a foreclosed homeowner could seek protection from being removed from the property post-foreclosure sale.

Our firm’s real estate attorneys are helping our clients navigate through these challenging times and contend with the issues surrounding the current state of evictions, foreclosures and property transactions.  We encourage those with questions to contact us, and we also recommend submitting your email address in the subscription box on the right to automatically receive all our future blog articles.

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