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Pinecrest to pay $10 million for tranquil ‘Mas property’ for a new village park

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The Pinecrest Village Council hears from an unhappy resident on Nov. 14 regarding the $10 million purchase of property for a new park.

By William Gjebre, FloridaBulldog.org

A five-acre tract of exotic trees and plants, trails, a lagoon, and large house commonly known as the Mas property is likely to become a park for the south end of Pinecrest. The village council recently approved an agreement with the representative of the “hidden” owner to acquire the site for $10 million.

An addendum in the purchase agreement in which the property owner agreed to cut $3.9 million from the highest market appraisals of $13.9 million in exchange for the right to name the park complex is probably the best indicator linking the tract to the Mas family, according to village officials negotiating the accord.

It will be named for Aleyda Mas, wife of Jorge Mas Santos, head of the massive Mas Tec construction and engineering company and managing owner of the Inter Miami soccer club, according to the document.

Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano and Maria Currais, attorney for a private law firm providing Pinecrest legal services, said none of the agreement documents list Jorge Mas Santos. While they couldn’t absolutely state Jorge Mas was the property owner now, they said the property has generally been associated with the Mas family.

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Aleyda and Jorge Mas Santos Photo: Social MIami

“That’s the Mas” property, Galiano said, adding she believes the Mas family moved elsewhere about two years ago. She said she never spoke directly to Mas during negotiations. She communicated only with Roland Sanchez-Medina Jr., an attorney representing the property ownership, and always by email.

At times, Galiano said she asked Sanchez-Medina to confer with “Jorge” for his position on a suggestion by the village and Sanchez-Medina replied with a response but without stating it was from Mas.

HIDE AND SEEK RECORDS

In the purchase document Sanchez-Medina is listed in the ”seller” line …as Trustee of the 11850 Trust” for the Mas-linked property at 11855 SW 60th Avenue. He is similarly listed as trustee for the same property in Miami-Dade Property Assessor’s Office records.

After clarification of property records, Galiano said, the city moved forward with negotiations with Sanchez-Medina, resulting in an agreement.

The State of Florida’s Division of Corporations links the two men to at least two corporations:

Jorge Mas Holding 1, LLC, and Jorge Mas Holding, LLC, both currently active entities, and Sanchez-Medina as “registered agent” and “authorized representative” for both LLCs.

Considered a leader in the field of real estate, corporate, and tax law, Sanchez-Medina, as the trustee for land trust and an attorney, had no comment.

Mas did not respond to several calls for comment.

CLEAN SOIL

Two weeks after the village council approved the land purchase, the one remaining obstacle to concluding the deal was eliminated. Galiano said Landscience, of North Miami, the firm hired by the village to inspect the buildings and soil for such issues as the arsenic, found no problems and no need for additional testing. “I think it’s a go,” Galiano said of the deal.

The property at 11855 SW 60th Avenue that the Pinecrest City Council has agreed to purchase for $10 million.

There are maintenance issues that include upkeep of the grounds and a roof replacement for the main house estimated to cost $200,000, Galiano said. But these and other conditions would not sour the agreement, she added.

If the village is able to renovate the main house and cleanup the property, she speculated it may cost from $1 million to $2.5 million. If not, then the main house would be removed and a new structure built for intended indoor uses.

Photos of the interior of the main house reveal holes in the walls in some rooms, as if something had been pulled out; a section of a floor, some doors and frames removed; and a deteriorated wall area just under the roof.

Furniture and other items cluttering several areas of the house must be removed before closing on the property, Galiano said.

Pinecrest Vice Mayor Anna Hochkammer

The hide-and-seek circumstances surrounding ownership and concerns raised by some residents about the purchase aside, one council member was pleased with the acquisition.

“I think it will be a fabulous addition to Pinecrest,” Vice Mayor Anna Hochkammer said at the Nov. 14 meeting where the council unanimously approved the land purchase.

A ‘PARK DESERT’

The area of the Mas property, she said, has been a been “a park desert” because there is none in the residential neighborhood that meets village and national standards that recommend a park within one mile or a 10-to-15 minute walk of every resident.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled that these five acres of beautifully landscaped green space are going to be incorporated into the village’s inventory of parks,’ Hochkammer added.

Now that the property inspection has been resolved the village will likely continue to move toward issuance of bonds to purchase the property and finalize the agreement, both slated for January, Galiano said.

The village will post public notice of a bond sale to finance acquisition Jan. 2 and select firms on Jan. 9. Closing on the Mas property is slated for Jan. 17. The bond issue will be up to $15 million for the Mas property plus another smaller tract with water access for a park near the Pinecrest Gardens complex, Galiano said.

At the Nov 14 meeting, several residents expressed concerns about the lack of information to the public regarding the accord, the need for another park, removal of property from the tax rolls, and traffic and parking issues when the park opens.

“I wasn’t aware of this acquisition,” resident Harry Speizer said, adding there were no media stories and no advanced agenda information from the village detailing the agreement.“  The advance agenda published Nov. 14 agenda did not state purchase price, property owner, and intended use of the land for a park.

“Do we need another park?” Speizer said. While the village is proposing to spend in excess of $14 million, Speizer added, “There’s nobody here, almost nobody shows up…they have no idea what’s going on.” He urged officials to better inform the community.

$100,000+ OFF THE TAX ROLL

Another resident had similar concerns. “I …felt a little nervous about how this was communicated to the public,” John Steinhauer said. “I’m thinking how much property we’re going to continue to take from the community and off the tax rolls.”

According to the Miami-Dade Property Assessor’s Office, taxes on the site in recent years were: $75,357 in 2020; $83,935 in 2021; and $95,036 in 2022. The tab for 2023 is $109,283, to be paid by the current owner. After the city takes ownership, it will come off the tax roll.

While agreeing the Mas tract is “a beautiful property,” Patricia Brid, a long-time village resident, said, “Please let us know in advance” about impactful issues, such as the proposed Mas property purchase.

And Luiz Gandelman, a youth who lives near the Mas property and frequently rides his bike in the neighborhood, said there is concern about traffic and parking issues that might stem from a park.

Parking and traffic issues are likely to be miniml, Galiano said, because the Mas property park is envisioned for mostly “passive use.” It is not expected to have active playfields that draw larger numbers of users, she stated.

Galiano also explained the complexity of the purchase price agreement. Negotiations called for the village to obtain two market value appraisals on the property: one from GRE Group, of Miami, set the figure at $10.6 million, the second from Joseph J. Blake Associates, also of Miami, at $13.9 million.  The parties, she added, had agreed the village would pay a minimum $10 million or the average of the two appraisals — $12.25 million.

A DEAL FOR NAMING RIGHTS

“We offered $10 million as a maximum that we would pay out of pocket,” Galiano said. The ownership representative then agreed to cut $3.9 million—to be listed as a “charitable contribution” by the seller for tax purposes, with village acknowledging the reduction as such – off the highest appraised market value of $13.9 million in exchange for naming rights.

With the naming rights agreement the village “paid $2.25 million” less than the average of the two appraisals, Galiano said.

Judging from one property website the 217,800 square-foot Mas-linked property seems to have many elements to accommodate the Pinecrest’s intention to create a park for passive use.

Calling it a “Tropical Oasis,” Zillow stated the property has “extensive and rare collection of exotic trees and vibrant plans throughout serene trails, lush gardens and hidden retreats, all overlook the breathtaking and intricately man-made lagoon.

“The existing resort-style home features over 11,000 adjusted square feet with large open living room space, 5 bedrooms, 8 baths, and 2 one-half baths. A separate 2-story structure includes a state-of-the art wine cellar, and entertainment area, complete with tennis court and stunning grotto inspired pool detained with cascading natural stone.”

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  • There should be a provision in the law that this land cannot be sold to private developers without a public referendum. Remember what happened in Hollywood.

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