Amancio Ortega in dispute with the Miami Condo-Hotel Association

Owners of condos at the Epic Hotel & Residences in downtown Miami are escalating a legal battle with the global real estate giant that owns the hotel's portion.

The Epic West Condominium Association sued an affiliate of Grupo Ponte Gadea, the real estate investment arm of Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on May 6. The complaint alleges that Ponte Gadea's Epic Hotel LLC and a separate umbrella organization illegally control common areas and authorize unlawful assessments at the 54-story waterfront condo hotel at 200 Biscayne Boulevard Way.

Epic Hotel filed a pending lawsuit against the condominium association in November, alleging the company failed to pay $763,313 in shared maintenance costs from 2020.

Kelly Melchiondo, an attorney for Epic Hotel, did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.

“This type of hotel and condominium structure should be deemed unlawful,” said Stevan Pardo, Epic West’s attorney. “We look forward to the opportunity to present all of this and let the court decide the merits of this case.”

Epic West's lawsuit essentially accuses Epic Hotel and the master association of exercising unilateral power over common elements and amenities of the luxury building, which is divided into 414 hotel rooms and 362 condominiums. As a result, Epic Hotel and the master association collected unlawful tax assessments from condominium owners while depriving Epic West members of any control over the operation and maintenance of the property, the complaint says.

“The hotel property owner assesses the condominium association owners 50 percent for the management, operation, reserves and insurance of the shared facilities,” the complaint states. “However, the Condominium Association has no control, influence or vote over the nature and amount of these expenses. The master association, controlled by the hotel property owner, shall have full discretion to determine what maintenance or capital improvements should or should not be made to the shared facilities.”

For example, Epic Hotel charged Epic West 100 percent for repairs to the tower's heating and air conditioning system, while the equipment was part of the “common facilities” for which the hotel owner was supposed to cover half the cost, the lawsuit says. The condominium association also improperly pays 50 percent of the cost of maintaining the hotel lobby, which is not a common area of ​​the condominium portion, Epic West claims.

Epic West's lawsuit is not the first lawsuit pitting condo hotel associations against a hotel owner. Pardo also represents the three condo associations at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort in Miami Beach. In 2016, the associations sued hotel owner Carillon, New York-based Z Capital Group, alleging that Epic West had committed similar violations of Florida condo laws against Epic Hotel.

On November 17, Miami-Dade Judge Jennifer Bailey issued a final ruling that marked a partial victory and partial defeat for the three Carillon homeowners associations. Z Capital and the associations separately appealed to overturn Bailey's outstanding rulings.

Anna Harden

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