$1.5 million valet parking dispute pits Miami luxury condo board against developer

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald

By Nicholas Nehamas

Published August 22, 2015


In Miami’s surging real estate market, even the price of parking has hit overdrive.

Residents of a downtown luxury condo have been told they must cough up $1.5 million for the 50 parking spots they’ve used for valet parking — for free — since the building opened in 2008.

That’s $30,000 per spot, or $196 per square foot of parking, assuming the spaces are the minimum size mandated by city code. The average home in Miami-Dade County sells for $175 per square foot, according to real estate website Trulia.

Unit owners at the building, a 40-story tower on Biscayne Boulevard at Third Street called Met One, aren’t happy about telling Mom and Dad to park somewhere else if they want to come visit.

“Needless to say the board and unit owners expected that upon purchasing their units they would forever and always have the ability to have valet parking,” said Eric Glazer, an attorney for the condo association.

Developer MDM Group has already turned the building, which has 447 units, over to the association. But MDM still owns 50 guest parking spaces in the building’s garage. If buying the spots strikes residents as a bad deal, MDM principals Ricardo Glas and Luis Pulenta have also offered to rent them out for a total of $10,000 per month.

But neither option appeals to the condo association.

“We do not have these funds in the budget,” Met One’s property manager told unit owners in an email last week. “The only solution would be a special assessment, which would need to be voted on. ... That process would last several months and would not be fair to the property residents — assuming that the vote could even be obtained.”

The average price for a condo at Met One is about $500,000.

Israel Kreps, a spokesman for the developers, pointed out that until now valet parking has been provided free of charge. He said developers were engaged in a “frank and honest discussion” with the board about a fair price.

But Glazer said that if developers don’t lower their demands, the dispute may end up parked in front of a judge.

“That’s what they make courts for,” he said.

Glazer said the association is considering renting out spots for valet parking at a nearby garage.

It’s not clear if or when developers would cut off access to the Met One spaces if negotiations break down.

Similar conflicts aren’t unusual between developers and condo boards, said Joshua Krut, a partner at Weiss Serota who practices condo association law. What happens to parking all depends on how condo declaration contracts are structured. Krut said buyers need to read those documents before purchasing a condo.

“We see a lot of litigation about parking spots in condominiums,” Krut said. “Downtown parking is a commodity in rare supply and high demand.”

And the price asked by MDM isn’t above market rate.

“$30,000 is not outrageous when you take into account all the construction and related costs,” said Tom Blazejack, a commercial real estate appraiser at the downtown Miami firm Blazejack & Co.

Andrew Frey, a local residential developer, says the conflict at Met One reflects a wider issue of poor urban planning: Miami is too reliant on cars.

“Parking is so valuable in Miami because we’ve spent the last 60 or 70 years building” on the idea that everyone should own a car, Frey said.

“We should be building neighborhoods where you don’t have to get on a car or a bus to do what you need to do,” he added.

Although the Met One spots may seem pricey, they’re hardly the most expensive in the country.

An 8-by-12 foot parking space in a San Francisco condo made headlines when it sold for $82,000 in 2013. Last year, two spots in Boston’s notoriously crowded Back Bay neighborhood went for $560,000. And a Manhattan developer is asking a whopping $1 million per parking space for an ultra-luxury condo in SoHo.