Bilzin Sumberg Team Handles Scientology Church Sale

Bilzin Sumberg attorneys Anthony De Yurre and Salome Bascuñan helped a group purchase a Coral Gables property that was once home to the Church of Scientology of Florida Inc.

The lawyers handled the deal on behalf of Maven Real Estate LLC, a Fort Lauderdale-based fund that invests in multifamily and small development plays, De Yurre said.

The 16,200-square-foot, three-story building at 120 Giralda Ave. sold for $3.9 million. Also included in the deal was a 7,500-square-foot parking lot across the street that traded for $1.9 million. In total, the church sold the assets for $5.8 million.

Facing a bidding war following the church’s departure to new location in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, the Bilzin Sumberg duo was able to structure a successful deal in a matter of weeks.

“One of the challenges was understanding the background [of the property] in terms of title and the various exemptions that were applicable given the exemption status of the church,” Bascuñan said. “We spent quite a bit of time doing due diligence on that.”

De Yurre and Bascuñan advised Maven Real Estate, a group led by Marc Schwarzberg, to purchase the building and parking lot separately. The buyer created two entities to buy each site, a move that will help minimize taxes as well as give Maven maximum flexibility to develop each parcel independently.

The new owners plan to repurpose the building for restaurants and retail tenants. The property has 110 feet of store frontage on Giralda Avenue — a crown jewel in Coral Gables, which has a limited supply of Class A retail space on and surrounding the Miracle Mile corridor, De Yurre said.

Coral Gables’ ongoing streetscape beautification project, which is nearing completion, also made the deal attractive.

He said his client is speaking with a number of restaurants looking to plant a flag in Miami. Renovations are expected to be complete by summer 2018.

The building sits on land zoned for religious use, so the lawyers will help their…

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