For the past four years, about 40 investors and snowbirds who own 42 rooms in a landmark oceanfront art deco hotel have been locked in a pitched court battle with one of Miami Beach’s most politically connected families to keep their units.
An ongoing civil lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleges that Miami Beach developer Russell Galbut, along with relatives and business associates, broke Florida condo association laws by assessing them nearly $30 million for renovations at what is now the 340-room Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach. That works out to roughly $75,000 per investor.
The group, 10 of whom spoke with a reporter but asked that their names not be used, claim Galbut stacked the condo association’s board with flunkies and is trying to take control of the entire building by initiating foreclosure proceedings against them for refusing to pay what they believe are outrageous assessments. They also alleged that their rooms were demolished without their consent during the renovations, resulting in the City of Miami Beach revoking their certificates of occupancy until they fixed their units.