The Real Deal New York

Liens pile up at 95 Wall Street

February 04, 2009 01:59PM
By Adam Pincus

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More than $2 million in mechanic’s liens from nine subcontractors or suppliers have been filed at the Moinian Group’s high-end rental development Dwell95 in the Financial District, court records show.

Although in many cases the contractors are said to be at fault, not the developer, the number of liens filed is greater than on comparable projects.

Real estate experts said most large construction projects are hit with liens as the owners and firms dispute whether work was completed according to specifications.

For example, two liens were filed at 15 Central Park West and four at 20 Pine Street, according to Propertyshark.com, while at others, such as 40 Bond Street, none were filed.

The 507-unit Dwell95, at 95 Wall Street, was converted from an office building into residential apartments and opened in the spring of 2008. It is about 72 percent leased, according to the Moinian Group.

An employee with a company that recently filed a lien at 95 Wall Street, who asked not to be identified, said the bottom line was that the company was owed money.

“I don’t know why guys did not get paid. All I know is I did not get paid so something went wrong,” he said.

Harry Dreizen, general counsel and executive vice president for the Moinian Group, said in the cases of most of those liens, either the money had been paid to a Brooklyn contractor called Gateway Acoustics which has not yet paid subcontractors, or the lien derives from a dispute over work performed.

He said the volume of liens — eight firms filed in the last 60 days (the other one was filed in 2007) — may have to do with companies fighting to get paid in a down economy, but the Moinian Group was not struggling to pay its bills.

“The building, if anything, is continuing to lease up so every month there is more cash flow,” he said. “Probably as bills become harder to pay for contractors and subs, people have been desperate to slap on liens.”

Two subcontractors who filed liens blamed Gateway Acoustics for not paying them. They then filed lawsuits seeking a total of $473,674 on January 29 in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, court records show. Dreizen said another three liens totaling $263,305 were filed by subcontractors who had not been paid by Gateway Acoustics. Gateway was not immediately available for comment; its telephones did not work and an e-mail to the company bounced back.

Another company, Gessin Electrical Contractors, based in the Bronx, filed a lien January 29 seeking $555,237 from the developer, but Dreizen said Gessin did not complete its work. In another case, an asbestos abatement company called East Coast Haz Mat Removal, of New Jersey, filed a lien in August, 2007 for $268,024. Dreizen said that company did a poor job, and Moinian was counter suing for several million dollars.

Ronald Steinvurzel, an attorney representing East Coast Haz Mat, blamed the developer, saying the work flow was disorganized.

New York Elevator and Electrical, based in Manhattan, filed a lien January 8 for $535,293. Dreizen said Moinian was disputing the contractor’s performance as well, citing poor quality and slow completion.

Attempts were made to contact each company, but none would comment on the record.

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