Developer: Suarez consulted for real estate company while serving as Miami mayor

Mayor’s office: Suarez ‘doesn’t have to disclose’ agreement with developer

MIAMI – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is facing accusations that he used his influence to help a local developer to push his real estate project forward.

Location Ventures is developing URBIN Coconut Grove, a collection of studio to six-bedroom residences. Attorney Rishi Kapoor is the founder and chief executive officer.

“As an advisor, Mr. Suarez has consulted for URBIN by providing feedback on programming and the greater mission of the brand to bring new housing opportunities to urban markets, not just in Miami-Dade County, but beyond,” Kapoor said in a statement.

Just this month, the company’s former chief financial officer filed a lawsuit claiming Kapoor fired him for raising concerns over financial improprieties and reported payments of $10,000 per month to Suarez for unknown services.

“As mentioned in the proceedings, the agreement specifically makes mention that Mayor Suarez may recuse himself or resign from his advisory role should there be any conflicts of interest,” Kapoor said in the statement.

The Miami Herald first reported Suarez had been paid to help with URBIN, a multi-million dollar mixed-use project at Coconut Grove’s Commodore Plaza, and that there was a meeting on July 29, 2022, to discuss the zoning issue.

An attorney representing Location Ventures reported on Thursday in a statement that “there is no record or recollection of a meeting between” Kapoor, Suarez, or Art Noriega, the city manager, on July 29, 2022, as reported.

Soledad Cedro, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said the allegations that he had helped a private client are “absolutely false” and she provided screenshots of the mayor’s calendar from that day indicating several meetings and activities, including blocks of time that show what she says are “personal time for family commitments.”

“There is a written agreement,” Cedro said. “The mayor doesn’t have to disclose the written agreement.”

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.