Failed condo development in Miami may become indoor ski slope

Posted By: The Ski Channel on April 29, 2010 6:54 am

Here at The Ski Channel, we like to think that things happen for a reason. Do we strongly believe in fate over free will? Not necessarily, but it’s a great way to make yourself feel better if you don’t get something you wanted—”Well, it wasn’t meant to be…” etc.

We’re sure that’s exactly what the developers of the failed Biscayne Landings project in North Miami are saying right now. The land (originally a toxic landfill) was originally going to be a condo/townhome development with 6,00 units. Not so anymore.

The new idea? A city-owned indoor ski and snow-sports mountain park, with a 550′ tall slope.

Solar Park Management Corp. is heading this project, and not all homeowners in the area on on board with their ideas. “I am absolutely not comfortable with this,” homeowner David Levinson said. “There is a lack of transparency going on here. There needs to be a complete open discussion on who these people are and how they became involved.”

Levinson and others like him are worried about a settlement agreement and estoppel certificate the city council approved for the lender of Biscayne Landings. An estoppel certificate is a document used in real estate transactions to affirm that no encumbrances – such as tax or condo association liens – exist to hinder a sale.

Francisco Alvarado of the Miami NewTimes Blog has more:

“Steve Bass, president of the Keystone Point Homeowners Association, argued that the estoppel for Biscayne Landings was unfavorable to the city. “Basically it says they have done nothing wrong and fulfilled all their obligations,” said Bass, who works as an assistant county attorney. “Why is there no language to protect the city?”

Real estate lawyer Carol Keys and physician Bruce Gibson pointed out that the previous developer still owed the city a $10 million personal guarantee and that the North Miami community redevelopment agency is part of an active lawsuit involving Biscayne Landings. “This estoppel is a total release of rights and monies owed to the city,” Gibson railed. “It should not be allowed.”

Despite the objections, the city council approved the estoppel certificate. Before voting, Pierre acknowledged his relationships with Douthit and Howard, but downplayed talk that either man had any influence over his vote.”You may want to focus your energies some place else,” Pierre scolded the detractors.

Solar Mountain would look something like Ski Dubai (seen in the picture).

Last week, Banana Republican interviewed Easton “Dusty” Melton, a former Miami Herald reporter and dean of the Miami-Dade lobbying corps., who helped put together the Solar Park team. Melton says he has known one of the principals, Norman Cantor, for many years. “He approached me last year about his concept to create Solar Mountain,” Melton says. “I have been advising him since then.”

Melton says he suggested to Cantor that he include Douthit and Howard as partners. “Marc is a brilliant transactional attorney,” Melton sings. “Willis knows North Miami and other north Dade communities better than anyone. If Solar Park is to succeed, I am confident it will be largely due to the talent and energy Marc and Willis bring to the project.”

In a telephone conversation with me the mayor again reiterated that his relationships with Douthit and Howard have no bearing on how he will vote on Biscayne Landings matters. Pierre says he has known Douthit for close to 13 years. They dissolved their partnership in 2007. Pierre says he took out a $150,000 mortgage with a company owned by Douhtit to purchase the office building where the two lawyers had their practice.

“I have not spoken to either Willis, Marc or their partners,” Pierre says. “I had no say and no involvement with the way Solar Park Management was put together. And I will make sure to protect the interests of North Miami’s residents first.”