The Real Deal New York

Trump Soho developers sue project’s architect

May 24, 2011 06:11PM
By David Jones

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From left: David Rockwell, Julius Schwarz, Alex Sapir and Trump Soho at 246 Spring Street

The developers of Trump Soho have entered a legal imbroglio against the
Rockwell Group, alleging in a new lawsuit that the interior design firm failed
to meet building codes and cost the property more than $1.5 million in
damages for delays and replacement costs to complete their work.

The complaint, filed this past Friday in New York state Supreme Court,
came just two days after Rockwell sued the Bayrock Group and Sapir
Organization, alleging the Trump Soho developers failed to pay for $1.5
million in interior design work at the building.

Bayrock/Sapir, which developed the 391-unit hotel-condominium at 246
Spring Street, contends the design firm placed furnishings too close to
light fixtures and provided interior construction documents that were out of
compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The developers allege that bathtubs were too small, hangers did not fit
within closets and the main passenger elevators did not have enough light,
among other alleged defects.

“Defendant’s negligent performance required revisions to the interior
construction documents, replacement of already in place construction,
fixtures, furniture and equipment and caused delays to the progress of
plaintiff’s project,” wrote attorney Evan Wagowski, who represented
Bayrock/Sapir in the case.

Meanwhile, in Rockwell’s suit dated two days earlier, the architecture firm
alleged it signed a 35-month agreement with Bayrock/Sapir in 2006 to
provide interior design services for Trump Soho. The 35 months ended in
February 2009, and the developers refused to pay the invoice.

The firm alleges it entered into a deal to accept a reduced $116,000 payment
for the prior work and would charge $20,000 a month for work going
forward, instead of the previously agreed upon hourly rate. The firm says
it worked for another 16 months, resulting in another $320,000 in charges,
which the developers also refused to pay.

Rockwell says it should be allowed to rescind the second agreement and a
total of $700,000 under its prior hourly rate agreement.

“Rockwell filed a suit last week seeking over a million in unpaid fees,” said
Joe DePlasco, spokesperson for the firm, in an emailed statement. “They
have been trying to collect payment for over a year at this point. Although
the Rockwell Group tried to resolve the issue, Bayrock’s countersuit appears
to be an attempt to avoid paying what they owe.”

The architecture firm, led by David Rockwell, has been involved in some of
the world’s top development projects
, including the new JetBlue Terminal
at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Nobu Atlantis in Dubai and the
Le Meridien hotel and spa in Oran, Algeria.

Trump Soho faced substantial delays during its development phase due to a
fatal construction accident

and legal issues with community organizations about the legality of building
the property in a residential neighborhood.

Trump Soho is currently facing litigation in U.S. District Court from a
number of buyers who allege the developers misrepresented sales at the
property
.

Zetlin & Di Chiara attorney Michelle Fiorito, who represents Rockwell, said
her client would have no comment at this time.

Wagowski declined comment and a Trump Soho spokesperson did not
return calls seeking comment.

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