Developer of 432 Park Ave Responds to $125M Condo Board Lawsuit Over Bldg Defects - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Developer of 432 Park Ave Responds to $125M Condo Board Lawsuit Over Bldg Defects

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Lawsuit from The developer of 432 Park Avenue, one of the world’s tallest and most luxurious condominium towers, on Wednesday filed its answer to a $125 million lawsuit from the building’s condo board over alleged construction defects, calling the board’s suit “ill-advised” and “an effort to wrest unwarranted payments” from the developer, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The WSJ report added that the answer, filed in New York State Supreme Court by an entity controlled by Los Angeles-based CIM Group, also alleged that the complaints raised by the board had been “vastly exaggerated.”

As trendy as it may sound and appealing it may be to those who wish to live in a skyscraper that is very close to 1400 feet high in the heart of Billionaires’ Row, there are numerous drawbacks and even serious safety issues that have plagued this unique building.

In September, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the condo board of the building, as was reported in the New York Times. In 2020, the residents took over the condo board from the sponsors. The residents, represented by attorney Jonathan Adelsberg, (a partner at Herrick, Feinstein) are suing the developers for $125 million in damages. The lawsuit cites multiple floods, faulty elevators, “intolerable” noise caused by building sway, and a electrical explosion in June (the second in three years) which knocked out power to residents, as was reported by the Times.

Developed by CIM Group along with real estate mover and shaker Harry B. Macklowe and designed by Rafael Vinoly, the residential skyscraper at 56th Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan that is known as 432 Park Avenue is not only the third-tallest residential building in the world with exquisite views of the city. It is home to the wealthy and famous but unfortunately as with most unique real estate ventures, there is an unseemly dark side to this Billionaires’ Row tower.

432 Park Avenue is located on the site of the former Drake Hotel, which was sold to Macklowe in 2006. The project faced delays for five years because of lack of financing as well as difficulties in acquiring the properties on the site. Construction plans were approved for 432 Park Avenue in 2011 and excavations began the next year. Sales within 432 Park Avenue were launched in 2013; the building topped out during October 2014 and was officially completed in 2015. The tower is segmented into 12-story blocks separated by open double-story mechanical spaces that allow wind gusts to pass through the building.

432 Park Avenue has 85 stories above ground: a mezzanine and 84 numbered stories. Five two-story windbreaks, spaced every 12 floors from the top, are unenclosed and serve to reduce the tower’s wind load. The windbreaks contain modular mechanical services for the six floors above and below to reduce required ducting. The floor numbering system includes mechanical levels near the building’s base, so the top story is numbered as floor 96. The building is so tall, even compared to others in New York City, that its construction required approval from Federal Aviation Administration.

According to the September complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court, “This case presents one of the worst examples of sponsor malfeasance in the development of a luxury condominium in the history of New York City,” referring to the developers, CIM Group and Macklowe Properties.

The Times reported that the damages include the “estimated cost to repair some 1,500 construction and design defects in common elements of the building that were identified by an engineering firm hired by the condo board; it does not include potential punitive damages, or separate lawsuits that individual residents might file.”

In their defense, the sponsor which includes CIM group provided a statement to the Times through a spokesman which said: “Each and every commitment and term contained in the 432 Park Offering Plan and Declaration has been honored.” They added that some of the remaining “maintenance and close-out items” have been obstructed by the condo board, as was reported by the Times.

The WSJ reported that the suit alleged that issues for some residents were so severe that they were displaced from their units for as long as 19 months while the sponsor tried to fix the problems.

The board’s lawsuit also alleged that the developers failed to account for the building’s height and sway when it came to the design of the elevators, which the suit alleged had repeatedly malfunctioned, trapping residents and their family members for hours at a time and making it near impossible for others to access their apartments, according to the WSJ report. Common charges for condominium owners rose by about 39% in 2019, due in part to a 300% increase in the property’s insurance premiums stemming from mismanagement by the developer, the board’s lawsuit said.

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