Miami Mayor Suarez Revealed as Paid Consultant for Local Developer
By Chava Gourarie May 18, 2023 12:37 pmreprints
A legal battle between executives at real estate firm Location Ventures has revealed that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was a paid consultant for the Coral Gables, Fla.-based firm.
Greg Brooks, formerly the CFO of Location Ventures, sued his boss Rishi Kapoor in Miami-Dade Circuit Court earlier this month, alleging a long list of financial improprieties by Kapoor, including that he withheld $80,000 in bonuses, misrepresented facts to lenders, and bought himself a McLaren sports car with company money, among other actions.
Kapoor, who founded the company a decade ago, denied all the allegations and filed a countersuit claiming that Brooks acted fraudulently and was fired for cause.
Among Brooks’s accusations was the fact that Suarez was paid $10,000 a month to consult for Location Ventures, a side gig that was previously undisclosed, the Miami Herald first reported. (The mayor’s office confirmed Suarez’s role in the company to Commercial Observer.)
Kapoor’s response showed that Suarez had a written consulting agreement with an affiliate of Location Ventures. The agreement was reviewed by the city attorney and included a provision that the mayor could recuse himself from any issue in which there could be a conflict of interest, per Kapoors’s response.
Suarez has been on the company’s payroll since at least August 2022, a lawyer for Location Ventures confirmed to the Herald, as the lawyer was aware of eight $10,000 transfers to the mayor between then and March 2023.
During that time, Suarez attended the January groundbreaking of the firm’s Urbin Coconut Grove, a mixed-use condo project at 3162 Commodore Plaza. Location Ventures also got the city’s approval for a 16-story condo project in Coral Gables, and completed another condo project, the Villa Valencia, also in Coral Gables, both in July 2022. Outside of Miami, the company broke ground on both Urbin Miami Beach and the Edition Residences in Fort Lauderdale during Suarez’s consulting tenure.
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment, but previously acknowledged the job to the Herald.
Investors in Urbin Coconut Grove have previously sued Kapoor, according to court documents. Three investors sued to remove Kapoor as manager of the Coconut Grove project, alleging that he’d changed the financing plan they’d agreed to and had secured at least $16 million in debt without authorization, per the December 2022 complaint, first reported by The Real Deal.
Neither the investor case nor the Brooks suit have progressed past the point of hurling accusations however, so there are few facts.
Suarez has several other jobs in addition to his public role as Miami’s mayor, which is considered a part-time job. He retained his position as a lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and joined private equity firm DaGrosa Capital Partners as a senior operating partner in 2021 during the last year of his first term.
City attorney Virginia Mendez wrote that the mayor may have outside employment and/or income, but must recuse himself under certain conditions. “We have found no instance where the company in question or its subsidiary has appeared before the Commission or has required action by the Mayor,” Mendez stated. She did not respond as to whether or not she’d reviewed the initial agreement.
Location Ventures and counsel for Brooks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Chava Gourarie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.