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SILVERMAN v. WORSHAM BROS. CO.

January 6, 1986

HENRY R. SILVERMAN; PETER F. EDELMAN; ADRIAN B. WERNER; HRS/DALLAS PARC, INC.; PFE/DALLAS PARC, INC.; and ABW/DALLAS PARC, INC., Plaintiffs against WORSHAM BROTHERS CO., INC. and EARL S. WORSHAM, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SWEET

SWEET, D.J.

This diversity action was brought by plaintiffs Henry R. Silverman ("Silverman"), Peter F. Edelman ("Edelman"), Adrian B. Werner ("Werner"), HRS/Dallas Parc, Inc., PFE/Dallas Parc, Inc., and ABW/Dallas Parc, Inc. (the "general partners") against Worsham Brothers Co., Inc. and Earl S. Worsham ("Worsham"), their former partners, seeking recoveries of moneys spent in the unsuccessful real estate transaction, the development of the River Parc Hotel in Miami, Florida. River Parc was initially contemplated to be a European-style luxury hotel. After jurisdictional motions, a bench trial was held on September 11 and 12 and the matter finally submitted on October 25, 1985 by able, experienced and helpful counsel. Based on the following findings and conclusions of law, judgment will be entered against Worsham in the amount of $102,385.04, with interest.

The parties to this action are sophisticated and generally successful real estate developers. Notwithstanding, under the pressure of events to be described, at the eleventh hour they sought to resolve certain of their differences with respect to the development of the hotel and created a document partly handwritten which gave rise to this lawsuit. The facts though complicated by the nature of the transaction are in general not in dispute.

 Silverman resides in the City and State of New York and is the sole stockholder of HRS/Dallas Parc. Werner resides in Stamford, Connecticut and is the sole stockholder of ABW/Dallas Parc, and was project manager of the River Parc Hotel. Edelman is an individual who resides in the City and State of New York and is the sole stockholder of PFE/Dallas Parc. HRS/Dallas Parc. ABW/Dallas Parc, PFE/Dallas Parc are subchapter S corporations, duly organized and existing under the laws of the state of Florida, formed by the respective plaintiffs as stockholders for the purpose of acting as general partners of Dallas Parc Associates, Ltd. ("Dallas Park Associates"), the limited partnership formed to develop the River Parc Hotel.

 HRS/Dallas Parc held 10% of Dallas Parc Associates, ABW/Dallas Park held 35% and PFE/Dallas Parc held 35% of the general and Class B limited partners' interest in Dallas Parc Associates.

 In the late seventies, the parties became known to each other as participants in the development of the Miami Center project, part of which involved the construction of the Miami Hyatt Regency for which Werner was the project manager. Werner had prior experience in this role, Silverman and Edelman were also real estate developers, a field which Worsham also entered after operating successful contracting businesses in Tennessee. In 1981, the parties became aware of the availability for purchase of the Bauder Fashion College, a site in downtown Miami. All agreed it would be suitable for the development of a luxury hotel. It is not necessary to determine the initiator of the project for by the summer of 1981 an oral agreement was reached to proceed. The site was placed under contract by use of a loan collateralized by a $500,000 certificate of deposit pledged by Worsham.

 Worsham Bros. is a Tennessee corporation with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia. Worsham Bros. was a Class B limited partner in Dallas Parc Associates, holding 35% of the general and Class B limited partners' interest in Dallas Parc Associates. Worsham resides in Atlanta, Georgia and is a chairman of Worsham Bros. A separate Limitation Agreement among the general and Class B limited partners was entered dated August 16, 1982 ("Limitation Agreement"). Worsham personally guaranteed the obligations of Worsham Bros. under the Limitation Agreement.

 In 1981, Worsham became aware that the Bauder Fashion College, a building in downtown Miami, was available for purchase and concluded it would be appropriate to develop this building into a luxury deluxe hotel in Miami and conferred with Silverman, Edelman, and Werner with whom he had a relationship arising out of the development of the Miami Hyatt. All the parties were influenced by the prosperity then enjoyed by Miami as a banking and financial center for many wealthy foreign businessmen.

 The day after Labor Day, 1981, Worsham was able to obtain a $500,000 loan from the Southeast First National Bank in Miami, secured by the pledge by Worsham Bros. of a $500,000 certificate of deposit owned by Worsham Bros. It was agreed that each of the partners would be responsible for one-quarter of the loan (or $125,000), and would put up his share of the collateral. The other three partners -- Werner, Silverman and Edelman -- did not put up any money for their shares, however, and the bank eventually foreclosed upon Worsham Bros.' $500,000 certificate of deposit to satisfy the loan.

 The parties continued to be unable to reach an agreement either with respect to their aliquot shares or even to sign a partnership agreement as to the property. To protect its investment, Worsham Bros. had to put additional monies into the property until, all told, it had invested about $850,000 in it. Eventually, through the brokerage efforts of Edelman, a financial broker, outside investors were attracted to the hotel project and construction financing was obtained from a troika of banks -- the Florida National Bank, the Dime Savings Bank of New York, and the Buffalo Savings Bank (which later merged with the Goldome Bank for Savings). This financing, lined up in the summer of 1982, enabled the parties to go forward with the hotel renovation project.

 The parties formed a limited partnership by the name of Dallas Parc Associates, Ltd. Silverman, Werner, and Edelman determined to make Worsham Bros. merely a limited partner in the partnership and not a general partner, purportedly because, they said, one of the construction lenders did not want Worsham Bros. as a general partner. They never identified to Worsham or Worsham Bros. the identity of the person who had allegedly insisted that Worsham Bros. not be a general partner.

 The various related transactions -- the formation of the limited partnership, the closing of the construction loan, the funding of the contributions by the investors or Class "A" Limited Partners, the execution of the construction agreement, and the other subsidiary agreements -- were closed more or less simultaneously on August 16, 1982. As a consequence, Worsham's collateral and expenses were repaid and the parties' various interests were governed by the agreements thus reached.

 Silverman, Edelman, and Werner formed corporations to be the general partners of Dallas Parc Associates, Ltd. Worsham Bros. was the Class "B" Limited Partner, and the partnership, as originally formed, had twelve Class "A" Limited Partners. The General Partners each contributed a total of $100 in cash to the partnership and agreed to cause the land and the building, formerly owned by the oral partnership of Silverman, Edelman, Warner and Worsham, to be conveyed to Dallas Parc Associates. The Class "A" Limited Partners agreed to contribute a total of $1.65 million to the partnership over time on the following basis: They agreed to contribute $150,000 at closing; $900,000 on January 15, 1983; $450,000 on the later of "Renovation Completion" or January 15, 1984; and the last $150,000 on January 15, 1985, but in no event before the payment of the $450,000 contribution that was due on the later of Renovation Completion or January 15, 1984.

 The Limited Partnership Agreement defined "Renovation Completion" as follows:

 2.31 "Renovation Completion" shall mean the date on which all four of the following conditions have first been satisfied: (i) issuance of a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy for the entire building, (ii) commencement of hotel operations, (iii) establishment of a working capital account and initial reserve account of $250,000 and $500,000, respectively, and (iv) funding of the Permanent Loan.

 The original project budget called for completion and renovation of the hotel for a total price of $19,150,000 of which $3.9 million was earmarked for construction costs; $2.94 million for the furnishings, fixtures, and equipment (or "FF&E"); $8 million for the acquisition of the land and building; $216,000 for brokerage fees in connection with the acquisition of the land and building; $386,500 for financing fees, including the origination fee for the construction loan and for the permanent loan (as to which Dime and Goldome had issued a permanent loan commitment); $1,475,000 for construction loan interest; $375,000 for professional fees (architectural, legal, accounting, etc.); $375,000 for pre-opening hotel expenses, promotion, and advertising; $200,000 for "reimbursables and overhead"; $750,000 for hotel start-up working capital; and $481,000 for contingency reserve for other fees and expenses.

 The sources of the funds under the original budget were as follows: The Florida National, Dime Savings, and Goldome construction loan in the amount of $15 million; $2.5 million in installment financing for the purchase and installation of FF&E (for which the FF&E supplier would be taking back a chattel mortgage on the furnishings, fixtures ...


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