Arguments over who owns the air above Quay Commons in The Quay, and whether a proposed condominium project can be built above the street, are scheduled to begin in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court on Aug. 28.
In preparation for the trial, a preliminary hearing was held Friday before Judge Hunter Carroll as attorneys motioned to exclude some witnesses and discussed where and how many tables would be needed to seat all the legal counsel.
The case centers on One Park, a 149-unit luxury condominium building that is proposed to combine blocks 1 and 9, spanning across Quay Commons above a breezeway approximately 20 feet in height.
That span is at the core of the argument, with attorneys representing residents of the Ritz-Carlton Residences — referred to as Block 6 — challenging the purchase of the air rights over Quay Commons from master developer Quay Venture. Block 6 argues the air rights belong to the master association and cannot be legally acquired by One Park developer Property Markets Group (PMG) of Miami.
Attorneys challenged the inclusion of:
Expert testimony claiming adverse impact on property value because of a disrupted viewshed and a report the expert has yet to deliver.
A transportation planner over his definition of a finished versus a developed road.
A retired attorney who represented the master developer, authored the master declaration and was involved in multiple negotiations in The Quay. She was challenged over her assessment of what Quay developers and others think and understand about the rules.
Carroll denied the motions with some stipulations and limitations, including determining that comments in the latter’s deposition regarding what certain parties said versus what she thinks they understand or believe, are applicable.
Pre-trial hearing topics included the number of tables that would be needed for all the attorneys involved, and even whether Carroll’s regular courtroom is large enough to hold all the interested parties, including media, witnesses and others. During some days of the trial, there could be as many as 12 attorneys and three client representatives.
Carroll entertained the notion of moving the trial to the South County Courthouse in Venice, which was endorsed by all the attorneys who spoke up about it. Because he is taking over another judge’s courtroom for a two-month trial later this year, he expressed doubts such a request would be granted.
Pending appeals, Carroll’s ruling in the case could short-circuit PMG’s pursuit of an amendment to the general development between the city and Greenpointe Developers of Jacksonville, which is developing The Quay under the Quay Ventures entity, that would permit blocks 1 and 9 to be combined into a single building.
Following months of delays as the Florida Division of Law Enforcement investigated various allegations of malfeasance with regard to the approval process, the State Attorney’s Office declined to take up the case citing insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.
One Park has yet to be placed on the Planning Board’s agenda — which was pulled pending the outcome of the investigation — for a public hearing.
Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.