Richard Meruelo Cancels $200M Condo Buyout in Miami Beach

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Richard Meruelo has called off his $200 million buyout of an oceanfront condo building in Miami Beach.

The private investor had been under contract to buy out the owners of the 350-unit Casablanca on the Ocean Hotel since last fall. The condo building, erected in 1948, is at 6345 Collins Avenue, just east of 63rd Street in the North Beach neighborhood. 

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Ninety-five percent of unit owners had agreed to the sale, but Meruelo walked away because of “continued difficulties [and] uncertainty in the capital/debt markets,” according to a letter, which was obtained by The Real Deal

Colliers brokers Gerard Yetming and Ken Krasnow represent the unit owners and penned the letter. Meruelo could not be reached for comment. 

Had the deal closed, the acquisition would have become one of the priciest condo buyouts in recent months. Following the deadly collapse of Champlain Towers South condo building, developers and investors have stepped up buyouts of aging condo buildings, which now face mounting bills for legally mandated repairs.

Down the road on Collins Avenue, David Martin’s Terra is under contract to buy the oceanfront Castle Beach Club for $500 million. Last year, 13th Floor Investments bought the All Seasons property, which also faces the ocean on Collins Avenue.  

But unlike other developers, who typically will tear down the existing building to construct luxury condos, Meruelo planned to renovate the property and convert it into a hotel. 

The investor owns the site of the former Deauville Beach Resort, a MiMo-style property built in 1957, which served as the backdrop of The Beatles’ iconic performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. 

Last year, the historic hotel was torn down after a Miami Beach official deemed the 17-story building structurally unsafe. A Miami circuit court judge later upheld the order, despite a public outcry. 

Related Companies, led by Stephen Ross, agreed to buy the site on condition that Miami Beach residents grant a height increase to the Frank Ghery-designed hotel Ross wanted to build. Meruelo was said to be planning to use the funds from the sale to finance the Casablanca acquisition. 

Despite Ross’s referendum failing in November, the two parties appeared to have continued the sale negotiations in the ensuing months, though likely for a lower price.  

Julia Echikson can be reached at jechikson@commercialobserver.com