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Middle East developer offers $120 million for collapse site of Surfside condo tower

·2 min read

A billionaire real estate developer from the Middle East has agreed to bid $120 million for the nearly two-acre oceanfront property where a 12-story Surfside condo tower collapsed in June and killed nearly 100 people, according to a court document filed Friday.

The identity of the developer’s U.S.-based company, East Oceanside Development, LLC, was disclosed in a motion to approve the sales contract by the receiver for the Champlain Towers South condominium association. East Oceanside Development is owned by Dubai-based DAMAC Properties, a publicly traded company in the United Arab Emirates that was founded by wealthy businessman Hussain Sajwani.

On its website, DAMAC touts itself as the “premier luxury developer” in oil-rich Dubai, saying it “has been shaping the Middle East’s luxury real estate market since 2002.”

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman is expected to approve the sales contract on Thursday at the next regular meeting of the receiver, attorney Michael Goldberg, and other parties involved in lawsuits over the collapse of the 136-unit condo tower.

The initial bidder, East Oceanside Development, is required to make a $16 million deposit that includes a nonrefundable $150,000, under the terms of the contract. The developer’s bid is considered a “stalking horse,” which sets a minimum price for the 8777 Collins Ave. property. East Oceanside Development will now have two months to conduct due diligence on the property, addressing environmental, zoning and other issues. The general plan is to build a luxury high-rise condo project on the site.

But with the initial bid nearly finalized, other developers will now be allowed to submit bids that could generate a higher price for the property. Hanzman, the judge, with input from the victims of the condo tower collapse and lawyers involved in a class-action negligence case, will have final say over which developer prevails in the bidding competition. The judge’s decision is likely to come in the spring.

Hanzman has said that his goal is to generate as much money as possible from the sale of the land to help compensate the families of the 98 people who died in the June 24 condo collapse and dozens of others who suffered injuries and property losses. Many of the victims and their relatives are Jewish, including some who have called for a memorial on the collapse site instead of a new condo building.

Another source of compensation for the victims will be $49 million from the Champlain Towers South’s insurance coverage. But that matter has been easily resolved, unlike the sale of the Collins Avenue property and the plan for the memorial honoring the dead.