The very large Gothic Art Deco co-op at 130 Clinton Street, aka 150 Joralemon Street, plans to sue Citi Bike this week over the location of a bike share station in front of the building, The New York Post reported. The station is blocking garbage collection, according to the story. “We were never notified that we were selected until after everything was in place,” resident Ken Wasserman was quoted as saying. The building has 89 apartments as well as commercial tenants.
Rough Ride for Bike-Share Sites [NY Post]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark
The Communication Workers of America last week released a report condemning Cablevision’s Internet service in Brooklyn. In many Brooklyn neighborhoods, Cablevision is the only option for cable Internet service. Cablevision’s approximately 300 technicians and dispatchers in Brooklyn are members of the CWA. The report contends that service in Brooklyn is significantly slower than Cablevision’s service in the Bronx, based on testing data, and that Brooklyn is dotted with faulty and outmoded equipment. The report claims Cablevision is purposefully “leaving Brooklyn behind” to break the union. Above, a photo purportedly showing some broken cable equipment held together with duct tape and hanging no higher than six feet off the ground at 2022 Jerome Avenue in Brooklyn, according to CWA. In December, before the report came out, Cablevision sued CWA for defamation, saying the union was making false claims about the speed and quality of its service in Brooklyn, New York Business Journal reported.
Photo by CWA
The bike lane wars are back on. Yesterday, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court ruled that a lower court has to reconsider the Prospect Park West bike lane case on technical grounds. In a nutshell, the lower court had already thrown out the case on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. But bike-lane critics charge that the bike lane was always meant to be temporary, and therefore the deadline didn’t apply. Opponents of the bike lane have some surprising and powerful backers: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Iris Weinshal, a former DOT commissioner who is married to Senator Chuck Schumer. But the bike lane is overwhelmingly supported by locals in surveys and at community board meetings, the Observer noted. On Prospect Park West, car lanes were cut from three to two to make way for the bike lane. Bike supporters said the lane has reduced speeding and reduced car use. Critics said accidents increased after the lane was added, the New York Post said.
Flat Tire! PPW Bike Lane Suit Returns to Court [NY Observer]
Panel Rules PPW Bike Lane Suit Was Erroneously Tossed [NY Post]
Bike Lane Ruling [NY Supreme Court]
Prospect Park West Bike Lane Foes Appeal [Brownstoner]
Photo by joefenstermaker
The sale of the old Domino sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront to Two Trees is now cleared to proceed. The State Appellate Court threw out the last remaining lawsuit filed by the Katan Group against partner CPC, the New York Observer reported last night. The decision came right on the heels of an earlier temporary injunction by the appeals court to block the sale while the courts reviewed the case. Two Trees has not yet said what it plans to do with the site, but expectations are that it will be turned into residential housing.
Domino Suit Thrown Out [NY Observer]
Court Throws Out Domino Lawsuit [Brownstoner]
The exotic Venetian-Norman Romanesque Revival red brick former police station and stables on 4th Avenue and 43rd Street in Sunset Park is the subject of a feud between city landmark officials and the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, which owns it, reported the New York Daily News. The Landmarks Preservation Commission is threatening to sue the nonprofit for “demolition by neglect,” which could fine the group as much as $5,000 per day, unless emergency repairs are made immediately. Meanwhile, the Chinese-American Association is asking for grants and breaks on fines to restore the falling-apart building, which is open to teens, vagrants and stray cats. (more…)
Court cases stemming from violence in the Sunset Park rent strike are moving forward. A Brooklyn judge ordered building superintendent Israel Espinoza to vacate the embattled Sunset Park building where he lives and works by 4 pm yesterday, issued two orders of protection, and upgraded assault charges against him, according to a press release from the Sunset Park rent strike. The super allegedly assaulted 65-year-old rent striker Francisca Ixtilico last month, sending her to the hospital for several days with cerebral bleeding. Meanwhile, the court has postponed hearings in the case against Occupy Sunset Park activist Dennis Flores to Sept. 12 because of lost paperwork. Last month, police arrested and charged both Flores and Espinoza with third-degree assault and a misdemeanor for fighting each other, according to the document. Yesterday, the rent strikers and two reverends from nearby Trinity Lutheran Church called for the court to charge Espinoza with felony second-degree assault. Building tenants at 553, 545, and 557 46th Street began a rent strike on July 5 to protest ongoing problems with hazardous wiring, vermin and garbage, and say they fear unsafe wiring will cause an electrical fire. The building has many violations and is in foreclosure. Tenants have asked Felix Ortiz, a New York State assemblyman representing Sunset Park, to take action. If repairs are not made immediately, tenants said, they plan to make emergency repairs themselves.
Occupy Sunset Park Press Release [Facebook]
Judge Bounces Super out of Building After Brawl With Tenant [NY Daily News]
Tenant Punched, Arrests in Sunset Park Rent Strike [Brownstoner]
Sunset Park Rent Strike This Thursday [Brownstoner]
Photo by bogieharmond
Will the Domino drama never end? The Commercial Observer reports that the Katan Group, an owner of the 11-acre development site, is suing to block the $180 million sale of the site to Two Trees. (Two Trees signed the deal this June, and even then the Katan Group was making noise about the price being insufficient.) Katan is accusing CPC Resources, the development partner, of ignoring a bid from developer Joe Chetrit, ignoring higher bids of $190 and $200 million from two other firms, and of not conducting a proper sales process for the site. The suit also says Two Trees was given an extended closing time, despite the current owners’ mortgage accruing at $1.5 million per month. As The Commercial Observer sums it up: “Katan is seeking to nullify the blockbuster sales deal to Two Trees and terminate CPCR’s control of the sales process of the site as managing member of its partnership with Katan.”
Katan Sues To Block $180 Million Domino Deal [The Commercial Observer]
Confirmed: Two Trees In Contract To Buy Domino [Brownstoner]
After a delay because of legal issues, the retail development at the Empire Stores Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park is finally set to move forward. The park plans to request proposals from developers in the fall, said Brooklyn Bridge Park president Regina Myer at the Brooklyn Historical Society real estate lunch Tuesday. The Dumbo site is actually seven connected buildings totaling 330,000 square feet that once stored coffee.
Building of the Day: 53-83 Water Street [Brownstoner]
Legal Battle Over Tobacco Warehouse Continues [Brownstoner]
DOJ Weighs in on Tobacco Warehouse Feud [Brownstoner]
Two Lawsuits Over the Tobacco Warehouse [Brownstoner]
Yesterday the NY Post reported that the condo board at Dumbo’s Beacon Tower filed a $150 million lawsuit against building developers for mail fraud committed after the building received its temporary certificate of occupancy, not to mention nearly 100 construction complaints. Those include “countertops that are too high, parapet walls that are too low, improperly placed sprinklers, water leaks and unsafe windows.” Even worse, the light supposed to radiate from the Beacon’s “curvilinear louvered top” (giving the building its name!) has gone out and there is no way to fix it. Beacon, no more. As Curbed pointed out, there are two resale units currently on the market whose sale prospects now look grim.
Beacon Dark [NY Post]
This week the tenants of Flatbush Gardens (previously the Vanderveer Estates), whose poor building conditions are very well documented, filed a lawsuit against the building owners, Renaissance Management, to demand immediate action to address repairs. Tenants documented conditions like water damage, leaking ceilings, rodent infestation and raw sewage in basements and are demanding timely repairs and not just patch-up jobs. Tenants filed another lawsuit one year ago accusing the building owner David Bistricer of a breach of contract. As the NY Daily News notes, this is the first time tenants have banded together to sue for building repairs. Yesterday, residents gathered with Assembly Member Rhoda Jacobs, Assembly Member Nick Perry, and Council Member Jumaane Williams on the issue. Council Member Williams told the crowd: “Flatbush Gardens has suffered at the hands of David Bistricer for far too long. His inaction has resulted in unsanitary, unsafe and unsatisfactory conditions for thousands of tenants. Renaissance Equity Holding has had ample opportunities to respond, and they have failed.”
Flatbush Gardens Racks Up 8,100 Violation Points [Brownstoner]
Developer Isaac Katan may soon be out of the picture when it comes to the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar complex in Williamsburg, according to a story in yesterday’s New York Observer: “The developer of the Domino Sugar Factory failed to receive an injunction in State Supreme Court Tuesday to block its partner from recapitalizing the proposed $1.5 billion project. The decision appeared to clear the way for the Community Preservation Corporation [CPC], a joint owner of the site, to proceed with a deal to hand the majority stake to the project’s senior lender, Pacific Coast Capital Partners, LLC. Isaac Katan, who has been a fifty-fifty partner with CPC in the 11-acre former factory, had launched the suit in March seeking an injunction on the restructuring deal because it would significantly dilute both his and CPC’s interest in the project, which sits along the Brooklyn waterfront in Williamsburg.” CPC and Katan have made the news recently for being at odds with each other over plans for the redevelopment of the huge, waterfront property. Katan vows to fight on, so Williamsburg’s biggest would-be development may be on ice for quite a time to come.
Court Swats Down Lawsuit At Domino Factory Paving Way For Ownership Shakeup [NYO]
Photo by Dan Nguyen
Just recently there was news that the developers of Willimasburg’s massive Domino Sugar Refinery building into a huge mixed-used project heavy on housing were quietly shopping around the site. This morning, Crain’s has a story detailing just why the plans are far from being realized, and the bottom line is that the Katan Group is alleging in a lawsuit that Domino the firm’s partner, CPC Resources, has mismanaged the development process and played fast-and-loose with financing. Katan also wants to block the sale of the site to the lender, and CPC Resources is denying Katan’s charges. Here’s the legal back-and-forth and charges that the suit are based on:
“In 2004, CPC Resources and Katan acquired the site for $55 million, each contributing $10 million in capital to the deal, according to the court filing. A total of $65.5 million in financing was obtained from CPC Resources’ parent company, Community Preservation Corp., which provides financing for affordable housing development, and from Marathon Structured Finance. Since the acquisition, as the partner designated to oversee the development, CPC Resources has collected $25 million in fees for legal services, architects, unspecified consulting fees, environment fees and security for the development. CPC Resources “has effectively depleted all of Refinery’s available capital, while virtually no construction work has been performed,” the filing said, adding that the ownership is “devoid of operating budget.” According to the filing, that is despite the $20 million in capital put into the Domino project, the $25 million in fees collected since the start of the project, and the $120 million in financing obtained in 2007 to pay off the original lenders on the project. In 2009, due to the market collapse and uncertainty about the granting of zoning approvals for the project, it became clear that the effort would need additional financing, the filing said, but instead, CPC Resources began to negotiate with its existing lender, Pacific Coast, which in September 2010 extended its loan. Katan claims that CPC Resources refused to permit it to meet with Pacific Coast to negotiate terms.”
Meanwhile, the Katan Group also alleges that CPC rebuffed high offers from a couple firms looking to buy the site in favor of continuing to tango with Pacific Coast.
Domino Sugar Plans on Verge of Meltdown [Crain's]
Photo by Loozrboy
Last week Broken Angel creator Arthur Wood had his latest day in court over his Clinton Hill building, which has faced foreclosure pressure for the past few years. The Local reports that on Friday a judge “agreed to consider a related fraud case brought by Mr. Wood against his lender” in the next 30 to 60 days, which means that the foreclosure sale has also been delayed. A lawyer for Wood’s lender, Madison Realty Capital, said he thinks the firm will win the case. According to the story, Wood’s lawsuit against Madison Realty dates back to 2009, after Wood and his development partner Shahn Anderson defaulted on a $4 million mortgage and Madison Realty initiated foreclosure proceedings.
Arthur Wood Beats Foreclosure — For Now! [The Local]
Broken Angel is Officially Broke [Brownstoner]
Photo by Hobo Matt
This morning a press release went out about how condo owners at 50 Bridge Street, also known as Bridge No. 50, have reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought against the building’s developer “and certain of its affiliates.” (The developer in question is the notorious Joshua Guttman.) The suit dates back to 2007 and, according to the release, concerned how the building “suffered from a number of construction defects including a defective roof and other waterproofing issues.” Representatives from the condo board declined to tell us exactly how much the settlement was for except to say that it’s “a significant dollar amount that combined with some special assessments within the building, will allow the building to fix the construction issues.” Repairs are supposed to begin later this year. The building was converted into a condo in 2004. GMAP
It turns out that the lawsuit that the Atlantic Avenue tunnel tour guide Bob Diamond filed against the city is not only for more money—$160 million rather than $100 million—than previously reported, but that Diamond is also suing over the scuttled proposal to run trolley service from Red Hook to Downtown Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Paper reports that not only is Diamond suing because the city stopped allowing him to run his tunnel tours last year over safety concerns, but also because he says he put $1.5 million of his own money into setting up the trolley service. From the article: “Diamond began laying down tracks for the streetcar line that was slated to run from Beard Street to the subway nexus at Borough Hall via Columbia Street and Atlantic Avenue in the late 1990s, and received approval from the planning commission under the city’s lengthy land-use review process to complete the project in 2000.” Diamond says the city then tried to sell rights to the project off and then pulled the plug on the proposal earlier this year when a study said the service wouldn’t draw enough riders.
Bob Diamond Sues City Over Trolleys [BK Paper]
Guide Sues City for $100M Over Atlantic Ave Tunnel Tours [Brownstoner]
Photo by shooting brooklyn
Here’s a video of the press conference on Tuesday about the lawsuit over Atlantic Yards jobs. The footage, shot by Milica Petrovic, shows some of the plaintiffs saying they were promised union jobs at Atlantic Yards after completing a training program. Maurice Griffen, one of the people suing, has this to say: “They guaranteed me a union card. They said it’s not a question of if we have it, it’s just a question of if you complete the program or not.” Meanwhile, a lawyer from South Brooklyn Legal Services says the suit hinges on “contract law…if a promise is made it has to be kept…these were promises made at the Community Benefits Agreement, they were made at orientation…” Councilwoman Letitia James says the plaintiffs “were had.” Atlantic Yards Report had more video coverage of the event by Jonathan Barkey.
Lawsuit to be Filed Over Atlantic Yards Jobs [Brownstoner]
The would-be buyer of Norman Mailer’s former Brooklyn Heights apartment wants to be released from his contract to buy the top-floor pad at 142 Columbia Heights for $2.08 million. According to the Times, one of the things that most attracted hedge fund manager Wesley Golby to the space was its unusual layout, but that very selling point is now the reason he wants out: “Mailer, seeking to conquer a lifelong fear of heights, essentially had the roof lifted up to create a tri-level crow’s nest of sorts. A series of ladders lead up several flights, with landings and small rooms resembling tiny ship galleys on each level. But after Mr. Golby signed the contract, he contends, the Mailer estate failed to provide evidence to back up assurances that the work had been done legally and in accordance with zoning laws and building codes.” A lawyer for the Mailer estate says Golby’s second thoughts about the purchase are “simply a case of buyer’s remorse.” It’s unclear from DOB records whether Mailer’s renovations from the early ’60s are OK as far as the city is concerned.
True to Mailer’s Life, a Brawl Over the Sale of His Brooklyn Heights Apartment [NY Times]
72 Berry aka the Mason Fisk Building may have been the fastest-selling development during the lean years following the real estate market implosion as well as the recipient last week of a Brooklyn Building Award but all that good press has been masking some pretty serious troubles behind the scenes at the 26-unit condo conversion project in Williamsburg. Last December, after many months trying to get numerous construction flaws remedied, the building’s condo board filed suit against the developer. A motion by the defendant filed in March summarizes the history and substance of the complaints:
After the purchasers moved into the building and elected a Board of Managers in the fall and early winter of 2009, however, the Board discovered that the promises and representations made by the defendants were untrue in that the as-built construction and design of the building failed to adhere to the construction as specified in the building plans, Specifications Report, Offering Plan and applicable building and construction codes. The Board discovered that their building contained numerous, dangerous and expensive construction and design defects, confirmed by a forensic architectural and engineering evaluation of the building. Sponsor has also, upon information and belief, failed to file for J-51 real estate tax benefits.
We’ve heard tales of woe involving structural problems, leaks, lack of heat and more. Hopefully we’ll have some photos to share next week. Unfortunately this is the kind of risk that you face when you buy in a newly constructed (or, this case, newly converted) project.
2011 Building Brooklyn Awards Announced [Brownstoner]
Mason Fiske Move-Ins Expected for September [Brownstoner]
That Was Fast! 72 Berry Sells Out [Brownstoner]
72 Berry ‘Only Thing Moving’ in Williamsburg [Brownstoner]
There’s still no resolution in the lawsuit over the Prospect Park West bike lane, which had its latest day in court yesterday. Streetsblog reported that the hearing mostly involved “procedural maneuvering,” with Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan submitting an affidavit saying the lane was not installed on a trial basis. This counters an affidavit from Borough President Marty Markowitz saying Sadik-Khan told him it was a trial. The point is important because the judge can dismiss the case if it’s determined that the city installed the lane as a permanent project since the statute of limitations ran out before a lawsuit was filed against it. Still, the city has indicated that it’s willing to drop its line of defense about the statute of limitations, according to Patch, with a lawyer saying “we won’t let this issue be used as a sideshow to delay this case from being resolved on the merits themselves.” Meanwhile, Transportation Alternatives sent out a press release about the lawsuit yesterday afternoon that had the following to say about the plaintiffs: “The bike lane’s opponents, represented by whiteshoe lawyer and former federal prosecutor James Walden, have spent the last several months making a bombastic and histrionic case—largely outside the courtroom—against the street safety improvements along Prospect Park West that are intended to curb deadly speeding and create safe space for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.” The next hearing is scheduled for August 3rd.
No Decision on PPW Bike Lane Case Today [Streetsblog]
City May Nix Statute of Limitations Argument [Patch]
The PPW Bike-Lane Lawsuit is a Reality [Brownstoner]
The Real Deal reports that a jury awarded more than $1 million in damages to a group of homeowners that brought a lawsuit against the firm United Homes, finding that the company committed fraud in the way it flipped properties in neighborhoods like Bedford Stuyvesant and Bushwick. The suit said that United Homes, the firm’s owner Yaron Hershco, Allied Mortgage Banking, Olympia Mortgage and attorney Benjamin Turner set up a “one-stop shop” to lure first-time buyers and sell them overpriced properties: “The lead plaintiff, a Brooklyn woman named Sandra Barkley, alleged she bought a home at 557 Hancock Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2002, for $359,000, only three months after United Homes had bought the property out of foreclosure for $153,000, did a minimal amount of renovation and then had it appraised for an inflated value.” According to South Brooklyn Legal Services, the loans on the properties were “never sustainable.” The suit, which was filed by eight African-American homeowners, also included allegations of discrimination, but the jury cleared United of the charge, and the defense attorney told The Real Deal that his client had been vindicated: “This is America; you can buy something for $10 and sell it for $20.”
8 Brooklyn Homeowners Win Fraud Case Against Yaron Herscho’s United Homes [TRD]
Photo from PropertyShark.