Core Group Marketing has filed suit against the developer of chic downtown condominium William Beaver House, claiming it is owed more than $220,000 in unpaid commissions for units sold at the building.
In a suit filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court, Core claims that the project’s owners committed breach of contract and fraud by failing to pay commissions for units Core sold at the development. Core asked that the payments for rent be paid along with interest, legal fees and compensatory damages.
The high-profile Financial District project is being developed by hotelier and nightlife impresario Andre Balazs, along with SDS Investments, a private real estate firm led by developers S. Lawrence Davis and Alex Sapir, president of the Sapir Organization.
Core CEO Shaun Osher declined to comment, but recently told The Real Deal that William Beaver House, located at 15 William Street at Beaver Street, was “one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever worked on” and that he pulled his sales team from the building when the developer failed to pay his agents their commissions.
Core was hired as the co-exclusive sales and marketing firm at the project in June of 2007, along with Prodigy International, a brokerage with offices in New York, Miami, Panama, Mexico and Spain.
Rodrigo Nino, the president of Prodigy, which is now the sole sales team remaining on the project, said he is not familiar with the lawsuit, but that “the developer was very unhappy with the performance that [Core] had. They didn’t sell so they were let go.”
This is not the first time William Beaver House has faced legal trouble. In July of 2008, a Brooklyn contractor filed a suit alleging that the project’s owners had failed to make full payment on about $40 million worth of construction work at the site.
The high-profile 330-unit development has also gone through several different sales teams and marketing concepts. When sales launched in 2006, William Beaver House was a co-exclusive between Prodigy and the Corcoran Group. But with sales slow, the developers fired Corcoran and replaced them with Core in June of 2007.
At around the same time, William Beaver’s marketing strategy changed course. Conceived as the residential equivalent of one of Balazs’ sleek hotels, William Beaver House gained notoriety for sexy ads featuring buxom, skivvies-clad women, some of them mid-strip tease. The amenities were to be equally risqué: a glass-bottomed Jacuzzi would be visible to anyone entering the building, and bathtubs would have walls that open into the bedrooms.
But with a slowdown in sales, William Beaver removed the sketches from its Web site in the summer of 2007.
Prodigy’s Nino said 208 units at the development have now been sold, but that he expects that 15 percent of those will not close, due to the real estate slump and credit crisis.
That figure includes 31 units Prodigy recently sold in a $40 million bulk deal to a group of international investors.
Closings so far have included significant discounts. For example, a one-bedroom on the 18th floor closed in mid-May for $1.01 million, down more than 15 percent from its asking price of $1.21 million, according to Streeteasy.com.
Nino said Core and Corcoran both sold around 20 units in the building, with Prodigy selling the rest.
The development team declined to comment through a spokesperson.