There are some wild developments happening downtown as a downtown hotel thinks its neighbor is trying to shake it down by extorting it. The developer says that the extortion is trying to get them to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in relation to building the 28-story project that the developer is working to put together in the vacant space, Crain’s reports.
The site in question is downtown at 50 Trinity Place, a property acquired in 2012 by Trinity NYC Hotel LLC. The idea was to construct an Aloft hotel that would be filled with 173 rooms.
According to a suit filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court last week, there’s a struggle for getting necessary permissions from the property’s neighbor. The neighbor occupying the space is a building with three stories that includes a diner called George’s New York. Without this neighbor granting those permissions, the construction can’t proceed.
The story gets interesting because Trinity NYC Hotel is saying that its neighbor isn’t just simply not complying but that it isn’t willing to allow the developer to continue on with its construction unless the developer pays up large sums of money. The developer alleges that these demands constitute extortion. The neighboring property says it needs some of the money for safety requirements like netting around the property, and city rules do indicate that developers have to make sure that the surrounding area is safe while construction is underway.
The problem is when neighbors try to take advantage of these rules by milking the developers for everything they’ve got. People know that in a number of these instances, they’re dealing with large companies that have a lot of money they’re able to pay out to make problems go away, and at a certain point, like in this case that Trinity Hotel alleges, it can completely bring construction to a halt with demands that are unfair and allegedly extortion.
Trinity NYC Hotel in its lawsuit says that it even tried to appease the neighbord by offering to pay up a sum of $10,000 back when the year started. The money was going to be used to help pay for engineering consultants among other needs from professional services. These workers would have helped assess the dangers that the construction would pose and then what kinds of protections would be needed in order to protect the area from the construction. The neighbors appeared to have taken it too far though by demanding money, at least from the point of view of Trinity NYC.
The neighbor property owner and his lawyer wanted Trinity NYC Hotel to pay $300,000 instead of $10,000 and wouldn’t accept a $50,000 offer after the parties tried negotiating for months. The neighbor will only accept a payout of $250,000 or more at the moment.
“This offer is an affront,” the lawsuit alleges.” It continues “and makes it clear that respondent has no interest in reaching a mutually acceptable license agreement on anything approaching commercially reasonable terms.”
By: Nina Horowitz