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Doral Resolves Possible Conflict Of Interest In Real Estate Dea
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The Doral City Council voted on Wednesday to approve a real estate zoning change for a luxury real estate project that up until June was partly owned by the children of Doral Mayor Luigi Boria.
The vote finally came after a six-month delay due to the obvious ethics inquiry into the luxury Miami real estate deal. The mayor requested an opinion from Miami-Dade Ethics Commission on whether or not there was a conflict of interest.
It was discovered that Boria had given money to his children, Alexander and Lorena, before they bought their share of the Miami real estate land to be developed by Grand Floridian at Doral LLC.
The luxury Miami real estate project was originally approved in February but a final vote had been delayed after the ethics question was was brought up.
Tovar bought the Borias’ shares of the company in May, with a loan from the Borias. Tovar is also a former business client of Luigi Boria.
The mayor has refused to participate in discussions or votes on the luxury real estate matter so far, to recuse himself on his own.
The ethics commission released its opinion that Boria had not violated any ethics code but suggested that he refrain from voting on the matter in the future. The decision stated that the gift from the mayor to his children was linked to the initial capitalization of Grand Floridian.
A luxury Miami gated community of 66 homes is planned for the 17 acres on Northwest 107th Avenue at 68th Street. The luxury Miami homes will start at $1 million and sit just a few blocks from a landfill.
On Wednesday, Boria left the dais before the vote, after referring again to the commission’s opinion that he had not violated any real estate ethics code.
“I will continue to recuse myself,” he said.
The remaining council members had put the vote off until after an opinion was decided in order to ensure there were no conflicts of interest.
“This was not personal matter but more of a public trust issue,” said Councilwoman Christi Fraga.
Vice Mayor Bettina Rodríguez Aguilera said she is glad to have the investment in the city, and she was happy that the Miami luxury real estate matter had been settled.
“We look forward to going to the open house soon,” she said.
City Manager Joe Carollo made it known that he told city staff to scrutinize this luxury Miami project closely to ensure it met city codes and requirements.
“I told them that this particular project they had to scrutinize, not just like any other particular project, but even more so because of the circumstances,” he said.
At the council’s last budget hearing before the new fiscal year and before the zoning hearing, the council approved a lower tax rate and a budget of $38 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The rate is set at $1.9280 per $1,000 of taxable property which is the second-lowest in the county. Aventura is the only one with a lower rate.
The median price of a home in Doral is about $177,000 in assessed value. The owner of a median priced home in Doral would pay about $250 in city property taxes under the proposed tax rate.
Andres Leiser is a local contributor for Constec Realty's Miami luxury real estate website. Andres Leiser has been involved in Miami real estate for over a decade. For more information please visit www.constecrealty.com
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