Lender Seeks to Foreclose on Downtown Miami Retail Building

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Controversial New York developer Yair Levy could lose control of a retail building in Downtown Miami, after the lender on the property initiated foreclosure proceedings. 

City National Bank of Florida sued a partnership led by Levy’s Time Century HoldingsTC Metro Mall Investments LLC and TC Metro Mall LLC  in Miami-Dade Circuit Court earlier this week, alleging that the owners failed to pay a $27.2 million construction loan in full upon its maturity this past February.  

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Back in 2018, the Levy-led venture paid $14.8 million for an 80 percent stake in the five-story building at 1 NE First Street, formerly known as the Metro Mall, in Miami’s Diamond District. The owners rebranded the 225,054-square-foot building as the Time Century Jewelry Center

In 2021, the partnership secured a $23.6 million loan from City National Bank to commence renovations for the property, which was originally built in 1926. A year later, the New York-based developer upped the mortgage by $3.6 million, bringing the total financing to $27.2 million.

According to the complaint, Time Century’s owners first defaulted this February, but the Miami-based bank granted a forbearance until June in hopes it would pay back the $25.9 million it owed. But the partnership failed to do so.

In addition, the bank is alleging that the developer failed to obtain a certificate of occupancy and to replenish interest reserve accounts.

“Time Century is in the process of addressing and resolving all issues and is looking forward to the continued development of the Time Century Jewelry Center,” according to a statement from Time Century.

The project marked Levy’s first in Miami. The move to the Magic City came six years after New York’s Supreme Court barred Levy from developing and selling condos and co-ops in New York state, Crain’s reported

The state court found that Levy had defrauded buyers and tenants by emptying a New York City condominium’s reserve fund. The court ordered Levy to pay $7.4 million in damages and $360,000 in civil penalties for illegal and fraudulent practices, according to Crain’s.

Julia Echikson can be reached at jechikson@commercialobserver.com

Update: The story was amended to include a statement from Time Century.