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Setback for Magic City Edgewater project

Braman, Pérez challenged Edgewater gaming room. A judge says lawsuit can proceed

BY REBECCA SAN JUAN
SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 12:30 PM , UPDATED SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 05:00 PM
MIAMI
A legal challenge to a jai-alai fronton and poker room planned for Edgewater remains in play.

Miami-Dade Circuit Civil Judge Michael Hanzman ruled in August that a lawsuit against the City of Miami and West Flagler Associates, owner of Magic City Casino, can proceed. The suit, filed in March by auto dealer Norman Braman and developer Jorge Pérez, seeks to block the gambling facility set for Biscayne Boulevard in the burgeoning neighborhood between the Omni and the Design District.

Braman and Pérez are able to sue, Hanzman ruled, because a February settlement agreement between the City of Miami and West Flagler was not decided by a court and can be challenged by parties that are impacted by the plans. The settlement was vetoed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Under the agreement, West Flagler could apply for a permit for a summer jai-alai facility. The casino agreed to not operate slot machines at the fronton and to not seek legal fees from the city. If West Flagler wanted to open a card room in the facility in the future, it would need approval only by three of five Miami commissioners.

That settlement was based on questionable grounds, according to the judicial order, which stated that the City of Miami settled with West Flagler because its zoning administrators gave the casino operator letters in 2012 and 2018 saying that it could operate a jai-alai and card room in Edgewater. But Hanzman said the letters may or may not have been issued legally.

“If the Settlement Agreement resulted from a lawful exercise of discretion it will remain enforceable and West Flagler will be permitted to operate in accordance with its terms and conditions. If it is an illegal contract that is void, it will be West Flagler’s prerogative to decide whether to pursue claims against the City based upon its alleged reliance on the Letters, or any other viable theory,” Hanzman said in his order.

The court will decide in November whether Suarez’s veto has standing, according to the Daily Business Review. An approval would void the settlement.

Braman and Pérez were among a group of civic leaders that declared war on the Edgewater plan at the mixed-use project under construction at 3050 Biscayne Blvd.


Miami Herald article

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