NOVEMBER 19, 2014






    PART V

On Monday afternoon I had to go to the MRC building to pick up a DVD with documents related to another story that I’m working on, and decided that I would stop by the office of the new Director of the City’s  Department of Real Estate Asset Management - I can’t include his name here because in it’s usual incompetent fashion, the Communication’s Department has not bothered to update the department’s webpage, or add his name to the City Directory - and ask him whether he had been involved in any negotiations with the Friends Of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS) regarding the rent or other payments that they would be making to the City as a result of the proposal that the City Commission would be hearing on Thursday.

I figured this was a reasonable question to ask given the months of negotiations that the former Director Henry Torre engaged in with Jeffrey Berkowitz over Skyrise, and also, because that’s one of his job requirements.

Fortunately, I managed to catch him as he was leaving for a meeting, and so I asked him my question and he replied that he was not because he had just come on board, and wasn’t conversant with the background of the deal. I then managed to ask him, that he wasn’t involved in the negotiations, then who was?

He replied, Alice Bravo.

Having Alice Bravo in charge of negotiations with the FMMS group is pretty much like putting a Whorehouse Madam in charge of a girls’ finishing school.

Somebody is destined to get screwed, somebody is destined to make money, and the only thing you can be sure of is that the screwee will end up getting the worst of the deal, and that lurking somewhere in the shadow will be a pimp.

A few hours later, the Miami Herald posted a story in it’s website by City Hall reporter David Smiley, that started with this admission by City Manager Danny Alfonso.

“ I was a little surprised by the scope of the private investment.”

How could he be “a little surprised?”  Is that like being a little pregnant?

I’ll bet that Alice Bravo wasn’t surprised, nor would I bet that Commissioner Marc Sarnoff was surprised.

There are people so livid over the notion that FMMS would agree to support and make money off of a 120,000 square foot “Exhibition Center” on that property, that I have to admit that I AM SURPRISED at how new folks are  reaching out to me to give me information,  and to tell me where to go look for more information.


Right off the bat the City Manager should be rubbing his eyes and wondering if someone slipped him some drugs because this deal is an absolutely, in-you-face kind of deal.

Consider first the two companies that Poch put together to develop this property and who will be responsible for raising the $73 million in equity that they claim they will need to do this project

TPA Group LLC is a company that develops office and industrial parks.  They don’t seem to have any real experience as a retail landlord. 

Even worse, EXPO-Miami LLC, was a corporation put together by Manny Alonso Poch in April. These guys don’t have any experience doing ANYTHING together, and the “officers” of this corporation seem at best to be second level players.

whether they approached the City first and it was the City who told them to go and do a deal with the FMMS, thereby doing what the City of Miami does best, letting private developers cash in on City owned property through sweetheart deals.

I’ve now had it confirmed to me by several sources that the Boat Show folks did in fact start talking with the City, specifically with Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff, Henry Torre, and of course Alice Bravo almost a year ago - or shortly after they realized that they’d have to find some new space while the Miami Beach Convention Center was going to be out of play during the remodeling - and that, and this is the best part, sometime in the last 5-6 months, the Boat Show people were told by Manny Alonso Poch and Jorge Hernandez, that if they wanted to do a deal then the deal would have to go through the FMMS.

Let me repeat that.

Sources have told me that Manny Alonso Poch and Jorge Hernandez told the Boat Show people that if they wanted to do a deal to use the Marine Stadium property, the deal would have to go through the Friends Of Miami Marine Stadium.

Mind you, when this was supposedly said, as well as today, neither Manny Alonso Poch or Jorge Hernandez had any legal authority to negotiate any kind of deal for the use of City property.


On March 8, 2013, the Miami City Commission, in Resolution 12-00012, authorized the creation of a “Steering Committee” to deal with the Marine Stadium issue.

Here is the relevant portion of that Resolution.

So the question that begs an answer after reading the above is, if this Steering Committee was doing its job, then how could the City Manager have been surprised by anything that the FMMS group was doing?

Not only was Francisco Garcia, the City’s Planning Director the Chairman of this Committee, but his boss, and the person who would have been responsible, even if Garcia didn’t do his job, was none other than “Alice In Regaladoland” Bravo, the Deputy City Manager, and Alfonso’s right hand person who was supposed to make sure that he was never caught by surprise.


I’ve written a number of stories about the little wooden shack restaurant at the Southwest corner of the Marine Stadium property that old timers remember as the Bayside Hut. Here are the links to those stories that involved Armando Lacasa, his wife Veronica and his son Carlos. HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

There are several things you need to know about Bayside Hut - now called Vero’s On The Bay/Atlantica Fish House & Market  - before we get to today’s issue.

FIRST: Since December 2, 1994, until today, this restaurant has never paid A SINGLE CENT of property taxes, because the City of Miami has refused to split off the portion of land that this restaurant sits on so that the holder of the “Revocable Permit” would be responsible for paying taxes.

The Lacasa’s who have a management agreement with Rolf Gerstner and Claude Laroche, the guys who still hold the original “Revocable Permit,” have been sued by a guy named Jose Lugan, the owner of Atlantica Fish House & Market who alleges that the Lacasa’s have violated the terms of their partnership and screwed him out of money, and sundry other allegations.  You can read the complaint HERE.

VERO’S ON THE BAY was the location in June of this year where an estimated 6000 people partied at an un-permitted event, and where “somewhere between 11 and 15 people were taken to the hospital by Miami Fire Rescue for alcohol intoxication and some related injuries with many of them being under 21 years of age.”

After an investigation, the Lacasa’s were let off without any penalties or punishment and “advised that he will only be allowed to have events that are customarily held at restaurants...”  You can read that “investigation” HERE.

Sources within the City tell me that Lacasa, a long-time pal of Mayor Tomas Regalado,  has been diligently working behind the scenes to make sure he ends up getting cut into this deal, one way or another.

So not only do you have Manny Alonso Poch coming at this deal from one angle, but you got Armando Lacasa coming at it from another, and if you ask the Mayor of Miami Tomas Regalado, about how these guys have managed to position themselves into the deal flow, he’ll look you in the face and tell you that it’s all a lie, and these guys have nothing at all to do with this deal.

It’s the Mayor of Miami who is the liar, and it’s the Mayor of Miami who has had full knowledge of both Poch and Lacasa’s efforts, and it’s the Mayor of Miami whose gross incompetence has led to this fiasco blowing up in his face.

It’s Miami, Bitches!

The most astounding thing however, is the fact that the numbers that these groups provided the City have them walking out the door with between $4,433,000 and as much as $6.4 million in development fees before the first brick is laid.

Here are their numbers.

Based on the representation that FMMS made to the City Commission two years ago, this current proposal is no better in financial terms than the deal that they claimed then that they wanted to do just to finance the refurbishment of the Stadium.

Their claim then, was that they wanted to get $2 million from private donors, $3 million that the County has had squirreled away for years for this project, and $5 million from the federal government.for a total of $10 million.

Then they planned to raise $6 million from an “adopt a seat” program, that would have 6000 people cough up $1000 each to have their names put on some sort of plaque on the back of “their seat.”

In their latest projections these numbers pretty much remain the same, with an additional $1 million from the State of Florida, and approximately $1 million in private contributions from the Estefans, the Getty Foundation, American Express and the R. Kirk Landon Foundation for a total of $16,095.000.

This still leaves a roughly $15 million hole that the FMMS told the City Commission 2 years ago that they would cover by selling the “Naming Rights.”

On page 32 of their proposal under Revenues, there is a line item (9008) that lists the amount of money they expect to generate from “Naming Rights - Yearly,” to be $1 million annually.

What that means is that instead of trying to do a deal to get that $15 million upfront, or at least in larger payments, they finance projection has them planning to collect this $15 million over 15 years, thereby requiring the need to float a loan to cover that amount because this represents part  of the money that FMMS is supposedly responsible for raising. This kind of loan could be very expensive, perhaps as much as 9.75% I’ve been told.  Anybody want to guess who’d get a piece of that action?

Now, I’ve repeatedly admitted that my math skills are limited to adding and subtracting, but it’s evident to me, and I’m sure that it’s evident to the City Manager and his team who are all a lot smarter than me, that this deal at almost every turn represents a a potential train wreck and liability of the City of Miami, as well as for the FMMS if the financial projections turn out to be unreachable.

It appears to me, and I think to a growing number of other folks, that the board members of FMMS, especially Hilario Candela and Jorge Hernandez, who are clearly blinded by the single minded devotion to “Save The Stadium,” that they are at best woefully uninformed on the intricacies of high finance, or the liabilities they might be responsible for incurring for their group if this deal were to falter for any reason.

The last thing to consider is how in the world are TPA Group LLC and EXPO-Miami LLC going to raise the $77 million in equity that they claim that they need to do this deal.

Their financial disclosures on pages 25 and 26 state that TPA Group has a total of $70,198,019 in equity, and the group that Alonso Poch put together, EXPO-Miami, has $3,450,000  in equity.

Now TPA Group is a real company, but the Alonso Poch group represents  little more than a pick-up group of folks recruited by Poch for this deal.

How do these guys figure they can do a private placement offering AND raise the “initial capital - $16 million - required to prepare the site for the 2016 Miami International Boat Show with such a non-existent corporate  history and so little equity?


In my Monday story about the Miami Boat show, I stated that the only big question for me was: