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Developer Under FBI Scrutiny Has Miami Beach Project Halted

Miami Beach officials ordered a halt to construction at a short-term rental condo project being built by embattled developer Rishi Kapoor, who’s also the subject of local and federal investigations into his Miami business dealings.

Developer Urbin Miami Beach had permission to demolish the single-story retail building at 1260 Washington Ave., but it also began construction of a condo development at the site without the proper permits.

The stop-work order was first reported by the Miami Herald and was issued a day after the publication inquired to city officials about construction work being done on the site at 1260 Washington Ave. in South Beach.

Urbin Miami Beach, a subsidiary of Kapoor’s Location Ventures development firm, applied for a building permit for the property in May 2021 but has yet to receive approval to start construction. Construction on the foundation and the building's columns had proceeded anyway, the Herald reported.

Representatives for Location Ventures didn't respond to Bisnow's request for comment.

The developer secured approval last year to demolish a one-story building on the site and received a permit this year to construct drainage wells, but it does not have approval for any other construction at the development. The Miami Beach City Commission granted an extension to Urbin last month that gives the development firm until May 2024 to secure the needed permit, the Herald reported.

Miami Beach spokesperson Melissa Berthier told the Herald that the project’s general contractor, Winmar Construction, acknowledged that foundation work was performed on the site earlier this year. 

City code enforcement had been at the site as recently as April, when a violation was issued over a missing concrete foundation under a chain-link fence, per the Herald.

The six-story Urbin Miami Beach project broke ground in November with all of the property’s 69 units sold, according to a release. Location Ventures paid $20M in 2021 for the development site, which also includes a three-story office building at 1234 Washington Ave. that the firm said would be renovated shortly after the acquisition.

The co-living development is planned to have units ranging from 275 SF to 1,334 SF, with a common kitchen, dining and living area. The project was marketed for short-term rentals and the developer plans to bring in a management company to handle stays at the property.

The stop-work order comes as Kapoor faces intensifying scrutiny of his work in the city. 

The FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, in collaboration with the State Attorney’s Office, have opened separate investigations into Kapoor and his development firms, the Herald previously reported.

The FBI and ethics commission are focused on the $10K-per-month payments that Location Ventures made to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who launched a bid for president this month. The FBI’s public corruption squad is investigating whether the payments, which were made through the Urbin affiliate and totaled at least $170K, constituted bribes related to the developer’s Urbin Coconut Grove project. 

Documents revealed by the Miami Herald indicated that Location Ventures touted Suarez's help to secure approval for the Coconut Grove project. The mayor and Location Ventures have denied the allegations, with the mayor’s office saying Suarez only introduced Kapoor to potential investors and Location Ventures saying the mayor helped with decisions about the mix of retail tenants at the project.

The SEC is separately investigating whether Location Ventures sold investment contracts to investors without registering them as securities, misrepresented potential profits to investors or used the firm’s funds for personal expenses.