Friday, August 12 2022

Dive brief:

  • The board of directors of the condo at 432 Park Avenue, a 1,396-foot-tall skyscraper overlooking Central Park in New York City that opened in 2015, sues developers at CIM Group and Macklowe Properties and the company that they formed to build the project, 56th and Park Owner LLC, “for damage resulting from the multiple, extremely large and high-profile construction defects existing in the common elements and areas of the 102-story residential tower,” according to documents judicial.
  • In a New York Supreme Court lawsuit, condo owners are seeking $ 250 million and punitive damages. They allege the building was “riddled with over 1,500 identified construction and design flaws” in the common areas and added that many of these could be described as life safety issues. The costume does not include the issues in the individual units.
  • The board claimed that the developers did not properly consider the height of the skyscraper when designing the building, which created “horrible and annoying noise and vibrations.” They also alleged botched repairs, electric arc explosions and severe flooding and water damage (caused by improper plumbing installation) in the building. Additionally, they said elevators, which are programmed to slow down in high winds, sometimes came to a complete stop, leaving occupants stranded for hours.

Dive overview:

The problems at 432 Park Avenue are nothing new, but the recent lawsuit brought by the condominium association intensifies the dispute between residents and developers.

“Unit owners have paid tens of millions of dollars to acquire units,” the plaintiffs have said in court records. “Far from the ultra-luxurious spaces that were promised to them, however, unit owners were sold a building plagued by breakdowns and breakdowns that endangered and embarrassed residents, guests and workers, and made repeatedly the subject of highly critical coverage in the press and social media. “

The developer of the building told Blomberg that his workers were prevented from making repairs by the co-owners, which delayed their completion.

Tyler Berding, lawyer and founding partner of Berding & Weil LLP in Walnut Creek, Calif., Has argued numerous construction lawsuits and said it was not unusual for condominium associations to block repair work. While he doesn’t know the details of the 432 Park Avenue case, he says the developers will send teams to resolve more minor issues, but not the larger, complicated issues that often trigger litigation.

“Are they really going to fix it or are they just going to fix it and cover up the evidence, or destroy the evidence in the process?” Berding said. “It is very important as a lawyer representing an owner of a building like this to make sure that we have access to the original construction problem, and not to something that has been altered or eliminated by a insufficient repair. “

Once the condo association controls a building, Berding doesn’t think work should move forward unless residents, the developer and consultants agree on what needs to be done.

Problems with taller buildings

These types of disputes between developers and condominium associations are becoming more and more common as developers build taller buildings, according to Berding.

“We’re seeing buildings on the west coast and the east coast approaching levels we’ve never seen before,” Berding said.

As this happens, Berding argues that more errors, like noise issues and elevators not working properly, are happening. In pleading construction errors in these buildings, he encounters problems he has never seen before, although he is not sure if these problems are the cause of the woes at 432 Park Avenue.

Despite the issues at 432, the exterior design won kudos. He was a finalist as part of building information research firm Emporis’s annual Emporis Skyscraper Awards. Ralph Esposito, former Lendlease executive played a key role in the execution of the construction of the project.

Berding said engineers don’t have a large database on the performance of these taller structures.

“We have buildings in San Francisco that experience tremendous heat gain from the huge curtain wall glass covering them,” Berding said. “Things like this are a relatively recent occurrence due to the height or mass of some of the buildings they are trying to build now.”

Ultimately, however, the situation should improve. Once these construction flaws were disputed and the developers spent the money to fix them, Berding said they would be less likely to occur.

“By the time you run into a few of these same problems, the engineering community or the architectural community has a better understanding of the nature of the problem than it has and is unlikely to make the same mistake again. “said Berding.


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