Two-Year Contract Finally Closes on Bayfront Site

An $11.8 million deal between two South Florida developers was inked in Tampa, and an Arnstein & Lehr legal team made it happen.

Fort Lauderdale partners Lori Hartglass and Michael Denberg represented long-time client BTI Partners, also based in Fort Lauderdale, when it sold a chunk of land to the Miami-based Related Group.

BTI sold an 8.5-acre site to Related, which plans to build nearly 400 water-hugging luxury rental apartments on the property. The lot on Old Tampa Bay is part of a 52-acre waterfront site BTI owns along Tampa’s Gandy Boulevard to the north and West Shore Boulevard to the east.
The sale, however, was no easy deal.

The expansive property is a community development district that BTI acquired by purchasing the district’s defunct infrastructure bonds during the economic downturn.

Denberg said Related was the first to buy a chunk of the sprawling site, so the attorneys were required to create a homeowner association and resolve several other complexities before the land could be conveyed to the buyer.

Because the infrastructure the bonds were meant to fund was never built, negotiations extended beyond the buyer and seller to include the city and the community development district itself.
“The unique piece of this was the actual closing logistics,” Hartglass said, adding it was something she’d never seen before.

The legal team had to plat the land before it traded, but the city wanted to make sure the appropriate infrastructure would be built, including access roads, before approving the plat.

Once an agreement was struck and the plat was approved, the parties had to wait for it to be recorded to move forward with the closing. The city, however, was unwilling to release documents showing the plat had been recorded, so representatives of the South Florida title insurance company handling the closing had to travel to Tampa to personally witness the recording of the documents.

The parties went to contract almost two years ago, but the complexity of the transaction dragged the deal out to 2017.

The site has been branded the Westshore Marina District and will be home to a mixeduse development. BTI has plans to sell additional parcels available for development and perhaps develop some on its own.

Arnstein’s Richard Ivans, of counsel, and Loretta Prettyman, special counsel, also worked on the deal.