email header
August 25, 2015

Welcome to Heller Waldman's News round-up aimed to give you a glimpse of our most recent developments.

Glen Waldman
Glen Waldman
Jeffrey R. Lam
Jeffrey Lam
Heller Waldman Makes Headlines by Winning Permanent Injunction for Grove Isle Condo Owners
Coconut Grove, Fla., August 25, 2015 - As reported on the front pages of both the Miami Herald and the Miami Daily Business Review, as well as by Law 360, Glen Waldman and Jeffrey Lam of Heller Waldman recently obtained a major victory at trial on behalf of their client, Preserve Grove Isle, LLC, a group of concerned condominium owners in the luxury community of Grove Isle. The 32-page order authored by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Bronwyn Miller granted a permanent injunction and confirmed the rights of the residents and owners on Grove Isle to a club and related facilities on Grove Isle for as long as they own their units. Developers who recently purchased the Grove Isle Club situated on contiguous land on the Island sought to close the club, which consists of a first class restaurant, pool, tiki bar, spa, salon, gym and 12 tennis courts. Once filed, Preserve Grove Isle was joined in the lawsuit by the Grove Isle Condominium Association, whose approximately 510 unit owners were represented by Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman. 

Grove Isle was completed in 1982 and consists of three high-rise towers with 510 units and first-class amenities on an island located in Coconut Grove, Florida. The amenities in dispute in the residents' lawsuit were a critical inducement to the original purchasers of condominiums on the island, as well as all subsequent purchasers, who have always been required to be dues-paying members of the Grove Isle Club. In turn, Club membership has entitled unit purchasers to continuous use of club amenities at all times and for as long as they paid dues and owned their units. This arrangement is especially critical to Grove Isle residents as a number of the owners are elderly and depend on these accessible facilities to sustain their quality of life. 

A development group headed by Eduardo Avila purchased the Club land for $24 million and vowed to close the Club in order to redevelop the property to build additional condominium units with no certainty that a new club would be built or even offered to the residents of Grove Isle. The residents fought his development plans, which have still not been approved. Despite the lack of approval and as a result of the failure of the residents of Grove Isle to "play ball" with the Developer, Avila terminated the management company in charge of operating the club and applied to the City of Miami for permission to demolish the club facilities in early 2015. The dispute came to a head in April 2015 when Avila notified all residents in what appeared to be a punitive move that he was closing the club and all the facilities effective May 1, even without the demolition permit (which still does not exist). 

After learning of Avila's intentions on April 9, 2015, Heller Waldman quickly filed a lawsuit and an Emergency Motion for Temporary Injunction to stop the developer's plans to immediately close the club facilities. The defendants in the suit are Grove Isle Yacht & Tennis Club, LLC, Grove Isle Club, Inc. and Grove Isle Associates, LLLP, all owned by Avila and his investors. After Avila was questioned on the stand during the temporary injunction hearing by Glen Waldman and before Judge Miller could rule on the temporary injunction, the Developer agreed to enter into a stipulation, which kept the club amenities open for an additional 90 days until a full trial on the Complaint could be completed. Trial on the merits took place before Judge Miller on July 27, 28 and 29. Then, on August 13, Judge Miller issued her order prohibiting Avila from closing the club and granting the permanent injunction requested by Heller Waldman on behalf of Preserve Grove Isle. 

Judge Miller found that a 1977 Settlement Agreement setting forth the specifications for the Club and the community's original plan of development constitute a restrictive covenant on all future owners of the land, endowing Grove Isle residents a continuous right to specified club facilities and amenities and concluded "it is abundantly clear that unit owners are afforded both the right and the obligation to belong to the Club for the duration of their unit ownership." 

Additionally, the Judge found that the defendants, led by Avila, knew of the restrictive covenant specifying recreational amenities and the fact that 32 "lifetime" memberships had been sold to members when they purchased their land for additional development and that "lifetime" memberships presuppose the continued existence and operation of the club. 

According to Waldman, "The court's final order against the defendant developers ensures that the numerous amenities so integral to the quality of life enjoyed by Grove Isle residents for decades will not be compromised by any new development. Nor will threats of closing these amenities be an axe any new developer can hold over the heads of Grove Isle residents in negotiations over future development." Based on the order, the new developers are "going to have to really rejigger their plans," Waldman was quoted in the Miami Herald. "They can build, but they can't build what's on the table." 

"I am thrilled we were able to secure and preserve the residents' quality of life; it will be business as usual on the island as it will remain intact," said Waldman. 

Lam echoed Waldman's sentiments. "We couldn't be happier for our clients as we got everything we asked for and the Court recognized the rights of the unit owners to receive and have continual access to club facilities on a permanent basis, something that was contemplated and part of the original development plan before Grove Isle was ever constructed and something that has been provided for 35 years."

About Heller Waldman

Heller Waldman is a Coconut Grove-based boutique law firm concentrating on complex commercial litigation and estate and tax planning. Its attorneys take pride in working closely with business and individual clients toward successful dispute resolution, business succession and wealth preservation. Founded by partners with extensive experience practicing at major South Florida firms, the Heller Waldman team specializes in providing personalized services. Please visit: