When Broward County made an offer on the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport, the last property it needed to acquire to expand the airport, try to get their project done and get it done on time.”
Tobin began gathering experts, including a former director of the Federal Aviation Administration. He also prepared a valuation of the property based on similar airing to take more than they needed to widen the airport.”
The real dispute was over the value of the property.
“The most difficult aspect of the case, I thought, was getting the county to realize they had undervalued the property,” said Mark Emanuele, a partner at Lydecker Diaz. “I don’t think they had the most right of the client to operate through the peak season,” Tobin said. “That’s millions more in extra benefit.”
The county also agreed to allow the hotel to use county land for parking so the hotel could operate even after the county demolished the ga- rage.
“We were protecting the price was nearly $30 million less than the owner wanted for the 388-room hotel.
The county raised the of- fer to $49.8 million, which the owner, Blackstone Real Estate Investors, also refused, before filing a lawsuit to take the property under eminent domain laws. The county was in a hurry.
“We realized that we were not even going to sit down and talk sensibly and early with these people,” said Mark Tobin, a partner at Akerman. “They had tunnel vision to port hotels around the country so he could have that ready, knowing the county wanted to begin construction quickly. “We were aggressively defending against a taking,” Tobin said. “It was our position that the county was seeking current information.”
A mediation session lasted 15 hours, ending after 11 p.m. with an agreement for the county to pay $62 million for the hotel and garage. Finally, the county approved the deal in June.
“We also secured the property rights, and the government was very arrogant about it,” Tobin said.
Broward Circuit Judge John Murphy entered a final judgment Sept. 18.