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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

OCTOBER 22, 2012


YOU DO ME THIS ONE SMALL FAVOR, YOU LET ME SCREW YOU GOOD
FLATIRON PARK

Last April I wrote a short post about the creation of a park on the little triangle piece of property that sits between SE 11th and 12th Streets on South Miami Avenue commonly referred to as the Flat iron site.


My focus was the promotional video of the Dedication Ceremony starring Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff, and how months later, nothing had been done towards actually building the park.


I wasn’t the only person interested at the time in the lack of activity regarding the construction of the park. The real estate blog Curbed Miami had also been following the lack of activity and had written several stories with more information than I had included in my original piece.  You can read them HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.


Last Wednesday night, in part as a response to a phone call I got about Mallory Kauderer, a minority partner in the deal, and supposedly the representative of the late Carlo Salvi’s estate - one of, or perhaps the largest partner in the property - wanting to make substantial changes in the deal with the City by trading a portion of the Flatiron Park for another pocket park at the north end of the property, I decided to attend the meeting of the City of Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board and see what was cooking.


First, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  Folks on the board seemed to actually care about what was happening to the City, and there was even someone with an institutional memory that went back beyond the last 6 months.


In fact, I had such a good time that I promised that I would start attending these meetings on a regular basis - it’s at meetings of boards like this where real public policy decisions are made - and that prompted a request from a city employee - who’ll I not embarrass by naming - that I not do that because because my willingness to spread happiness and joy within the City has already caused too many problems for those interested in doing dirty deeds out of public sight.


In any event, I was really happy that I went, and more importantly, I finally got to meet the famous Lucia Dougherty - who I’d never met - and watch her in action, which is always a treat to see a pro at work. This was especially so because she was there representing Mr. Kauderer on this proposal to swap the park land with the city.


Now, I’m always on the side of more park land, and my story in April wasn’t that I was opposed to the temporary park being built, but rather that Commissioner “Ethics” was milking the event for some self-aggrandizing PR value, while, for whatever reason - Mr. Kauderer says it was a problem in getting permits from the City - the park failed to materialize.


Since the park has still not materialized, although there is an effort to finish it,  I was far more interested in why there was an now an effort to swap a portion of this uncompleted park property for part of the Allan Morris Brickell Park at the north end of the property.


YOU DO ME THIS ONE SMALL FAVOR


I once worked for a famous Italian film producer who, when he was trying to screw somebody, would always start the conversation with, “You do me this one small favor...”


As I listened to the presentation as to why this swapping of properties was such a good deal for the city and its citizens, I kept thinking of that film producer, because I kept wanting to hear Lucia say, ‘ You do us this small favor.  We’ll give this useless piece of property that we can’t build anything on, and you give us that lovely little corner park that we can make tens of millions of dollars from.’


My musing about the Italian producer became prophetic, when searching for information about the late Carlo Salvi, who was the principal partner of the group that purchased Flatiron property, before he died, the 2nd story I found on the internet revealed that while Salvi had made his multi-millions with companies making injectable drugs, he had a thing for modeling agencies.


As the article recounted, “After Women lost Eva Herzigova, Stella Tennant and Kate Moss (it still has Naomi Campbell, Veruschka, Carmen Kass and Frankie Rayder), Salvi ponied up more cash to finance signing bonuses for replacement faces....Why would a private-jet-owning centamillionaire want to own modeling agencies?  It’s pride that drives him. “Whenever anybody had a bad idea, they thought of Carlo,” one agent explained. “He was the pigeon.””


You can’t make quotes like that up. 


Carlo Salvi was definitely a Miami kind of guy, and even though he might have been a pigeon for bad deals, it appears that his partner Mallory Kauderer, is trying to even the score for Salvi by offering the City of Miami a really, really bad deal.


To their credit, enough of the board members got at least a partial understanding of what the real deal was all about and managed to get the decision on whether to support this swap deferred until the first meeting in December.


BACK IN THE DAY


About 7 years ago, at a time that one of the board members described as “the Wild West,” when it came to the City providing zoning approval for many of the monster condo towers that now dot the downtown Miami landscape, the owners of this property got the okay from the City to build a 70 story tower on this piece of property.


Here is an architectural rendering posted on Curbed Miami.

The building was designed by the famous architect Enrique Norton, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s quite a stunning building.


The only problem with the rendering is that it makes the building look like it sits within a spacious area bordered on each side by streets that don’t make this building look like the monolith it really would be, given the width of the 2 streets that border it, and the way that development had made the Mary Brickell neighborhood a very congested place with.


The project was always referred to the Flatiron Project because the southern tip of the property narrows down to a point, and the name  references the famous Flatiron building in New York that was also built on a similar piece of property.


You can see that better in this rendering, also posted on Curbed Miami.

As I said, this building was designed 7 years ago, and a lot of things have changed since then.


The first thing was the burst of the condo bubble, which is why it was decided to create the park a couple years ago as a way to put the property on ice until times improved, and the financial climate improved for condo construction.


Somehow, along the way, Carlos Salvi, the principal owner supposedly died of surgical complications and the property ended in a probate fight, which no doubt also contributed to the decision to create the park until all of those issues between the various factions engaged in arguing over the will could be resolved.


It now appears that the market for building new condos in downtown Miami  has significantly improved, and that the probate issues involving this property are close enough to being resolved that the decision was made to go before the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board to try and get them to approve this little land swap as a precondition to starting construction.


THE LAND SWAP


Mr. Kauderer, representing the other partners and the estate wants to trade the City the 3100 square feet at southern tip of the current property - pretty much the open space shown in the rendering above - for the 2900 square feet Allan Morris Pocket Park that straddles SE 10th Street at the corner of SE 1st Avenue/


To better understand the trade, it would be the little red triangle at the left of the rendering below for the red square at the right.

At a first look, both properties are about equal in size, and the argument made by Ms. Dougherty on Mr. Kauderer’s behalf was that there’s really no significant difference in the value in these properties.  In fact, instead of a temporary park, the the land swap she stated would insure that the City ended up with a permanent park.


More importantly, the argument was made that the trade would actually be a benefit not only to the City, but to the other property owners and the folks who live in the neighborhood because the square piece of property that is currently the park, would allow for a redesign the building’s parking lot, thereby allowing it to be reduced from 16 stories to 8 stories, and reducing the condo tower from a total of 70 stories to a total of 46 stories.


To better appreciate the land swap, here are photos I took on Thursday October 18th, of the 2 locations.

The area that would become the City Park would be approximately between the 2 arrows. Given the space restrictions and the fact that it would abut a new building on the northern part of the property Kauderer and his partners want to build, there’s probably not much more that could be done with this sliver of property than leaving it essentially open, with a couple benches and a tree or two.


Below is the portion of the Allan Morris City Park that the developer wants  in return for his giving the City the triangle property above..

PAGE LINK - COPY AND PASTE

Copy the link below, and it will be a permanent link to this page that you can post on Facebook, or anywhere else.

Now, putting aside the ascetic values associated with these two properties, let’s focus on what this deal is really about.


IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ARITHMETIC


Arithmetic has been a focus of the current Presidential campaign, and I’ve often pointed out that when tracking down the dirty deeds at City Hall, you always have to follow the money.


So here’s the follow the money part of this story.


The original plan called for a 70 story condo tower to be built on this property. That plan is no longer in play, and at the board meeting several renderings were shown to the board members - but not included in the attachments that were part of the supporting package of documents included with the backup documents to the legislation that would have gone before the City Commission this week had the board voted to approve this land swap.


In the renderings, and in the explanation provided by both Ms. Dougherty and Mr. Kauderer, the plans now call for 2 buildings to be built on the property.


The first building, with an approximate 3000 square footprint would be built on the portion of the property to the south of the Metro Mover that bisects the whole property, and where the park is is currently being built.


This building, according to Kauderer, would perhaps have as much as a 30 foot high ceiling, and it would be for retail, maybe a fancy Starbucks, or something like that..


On the north side of the Metro Mover the condo would be built on this land currently being used as a parking lot.

At the northwest corner of this lot is the restaurant Baru Urbano, and at the northeast corner is the Allan Morris Brickell Park that is the subject of the proposed land swap.


The argument that was made was that the reason that the park land was important was that it would allow a build out to to corner of SE 10th Street and 1st Avenue, and that in turn would provide the additional square footage to allow the parking lot to be shrunk from 16 stories to 8 stories.


What was not discussed, but what is both evident and rational given the shrunken size of both the property and the overall size of the building, is that unlike the original design that called for a pedestal base with a tower rising above it, the new design will have the condo portion go up directly above the parking garage,  - there was great reluctance on the part of both Ms. Dougherty and Mr. Kauderer to provide details of what the building would look like because they kept claiming that they needed the land swap to be approved before the design could be done - but a dollar to a donut says that the 46 story condo tower would rise up directly above the current park property.


What this means is that the air rights to the Allan Morris Brickell Park, multiplied by 38 floors of condos, not to mention the additional parking spaces on 8 floors of parking garage provides a total of 133,400 square feet of build-able space, of which 110,200 would be for condos.


This could be worth as much as 20 - 35 million additional dollars in sales, because these corner condos with a square footage of say 2500 square feet, would be prime spaces looking Northeast.


All of this would represent a humongous windfall gift to Mr. Kauderer and his partners, courtesy of the citizens of the City of Miami.


How sweet is that!?!


THE ARGUMENT OF FALSE EQUIVALENCY


The simplest and most misleading argument that’s been put forward in trying to get both the City of Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board and the City Commission to approve this deal is that the developer is willing to trade the City a piece of property that’s approximately 3000 sq. foot, for a piece of property that’s approximately 2900 sq. foot.


The implication is that both of these pieces of property are of equal value because they are approximately the same size.


I believe that I have established above that these two pieces of property are far from being anywhere near equal in value.  To believe that they are would be the same as trying to argue that a one pound bag of shit, and a one pound T Bone steak both have the same economic value because they both weigh one pound.


Kauderer and his partners could have come in offering to trade the entire 8000 sq. foot portion of the property which is now being converted into the temporary park, which would probably have been a more palatable offer for at least some of the folks on the board, who expressed concerned about the lack of open space in the Mary Brickell area as a result of the continuing development in the area.


Consider that directly across the street from where the unfinished temporary park sits, another monster condo building called 1100 MILLECENTO is currently beginning construction.

When you combine this building, and the 46 story condo tower that Kauderer and his partners want to build across the street, this will completely fill in all but one last parcel of land that borders SE 8th Street between Miami and NE 1st Avenue in the Mary Brickell area.


That is a huge concentration of high-rise condos, office buildings and retail space in an area with so little open space, and streets never designed to accommodate so much car and foot traffic.


Even the unethical, corrupt hypocrite Marc Sarnoff, who claims to be the “Parks” Commissioner, and whose fingerprints are clearly visible in the back-alley activities that have become part of the effort to get this deal going would have to agree that the single most important issue facing the Mary Brickell area is protecting ALL of the current available open land possible.


LOOKING OUT FOR THE TAXPAYERS


At the meeting last week, I had an opportunity to speak during the Public Forum, and I argued that the board should not approve this deal.


My argument was that if the board should consider selling the Allan Morris Brickell Park for real money, instead of engaging in this bogus land swap.


The response that I got was that the City couldn’t sell the land, but there is absolutely nothing to stop the city from engaging in the following deal.


Mr. Kauderer and his partners would give the City ALL of the 8000 sq. foot piece of land that is currently under construction as the temporary park, and they would also give the City at least $1 million dollars in a payment that could only be used as part of a fund for purchasing new park land.  The million dollar figure is just a starting point.  A couple millions dollars I think would be more appropriate.


It’s the very least they can do in return for a piece of property that will generate several tens of millions of dollars in the sale of the condos that will be built with the air rights to that little piece of land.


ONE LAST THING


In wandering around Mary Brickell Village researching both of the stories that I’ve posted today, I was told by several people that the lease holder for the restaurant Baru Urbano, had been complaining that he was being subjected to increased visits by City of Miami Code Inspectors allegedly in an effort to pressure him to vacate his lease.  The restaurant sits on the NW corner of the property, and needs to be demolished as part of the requirements to build this new building.

I made efforts to reach out to the owner to confirm these rumors but the best response I could get was from his manager who told me that, “Maybe things have been settled.”


What is important about this situation is that if Baru Urbano has been subjected to increased inspections, then our pal Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff would be the one pushing the inspections as a favor to Kauderer. 


Nothing of importance - especially harassing a business owner with increased inspections - happens in District 2, without Commissioner “Ethics” approval.


Remember that I first became interested in this Flatiron Park as a result of the puff piece that the City’s Communications Department produced for Sarnoff about the Dedication Ceremony for the kick off of the construction of this park last December.


In May I did a story about Sarnoff’s wheeling and dealing over the creation of the 1814 Brickell Avenue Park, where I revealed in some detail that the developers of the Flatiron project - who turns out was Mallory Kauderer - had agreed to contribute $35,000 towards the design of the 1814 Brickell Avenue Park.


How fortunate is Sarnoff that a guy like Kauderer would be so generous as to give him $35,000 for the design of a project he held so dear to his heart.

All in all it will be interesting to see how the City of Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board handles this proposal when it comes before them again in December.


The City has had a long history of giving away valuable public land to favored developers and friends, and this effort by Mallory Kauderer and his partners is a pretty skanky deal when you consider what they want versus what they’re willing to give for what they want.


In fact, if they show up at the next Planning and Zoning Board meeting seeking the same deal, my suggestion would be that Kauderer and his attorney walk in wearing masks, and hollering, “This is a stick up!”


It’s the least they can do to justify this attempt to rob the citizens of Miami of a very valuable piece of park land!


It’s Miami, Bitches!

ALLAN MORRIS BRICKELL PARK

BARU URBANO

RESTAURANT

PUT OFF TO JANUARY 16, 2013 MEETING