The Real Deal New York

Bridgewaters alleges landlord blocking popular wedding venue from reopening post-Sandy

Lawsuit says Howard Hughes Corp. is making bad-faith attempt to evict Seaport catering hall

December 27, 2012 12:30PM
By David Jones

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Howard Hughes’ David Weinreb and Bridgewaters

Bridgewaters, a high-end catering hall at South Street Seaport, has filed a breach of contract suit against the property’s landlord, a subsidiary of the Howard Hughes Corporation. The suit alleges that the popular venue has been blocked from reopening after Hurricane Sandy, and that its landlord is now threatening to evict the tenant from the property. 

The Dec. 24 suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, alleges that although Bridgewaters sustained only minor wind damage from the Oct. 29 storm, its landlord is claiming that its 28,000-square-foot space, inside the Fulton Market Building, is unfit for use.

Bridgewaters is operated by the Glazier Group, which runs catering halls and high-end restaurants, including Twenty Four Fifth, at 24 Fifth Avenue, and Michael Jordan’s the Steak House NYC, at Grand Central Terminal. The Glazier Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010.

The downtown catering hall announced plans to reopen in November. But a Nov. 14 letter from the landlord said that the venue could not reopen due to damage to elevators, gas lines and sprinkler systems in the building, according to the suit. The landlord said that the property received a “yellow tag,” denoting “restricted use,” from the city.

Bridgewaters said it was forced to cancel more than 50 events and has lost $1.7 million in revenue since the storm. It has also been paying employees $20,000 per week, according to the suit. Lawyers for the tenant claim the landlord threatened to hold them in default for two months of unpaid rent, some $347,000, in a Dec. 14 letter.

In addition the suit claims the landlord has contacted the tenant’s insurance company, and directed it to pay for any losses directly to the landlord.

Bridgewaters’ court filings claim that the landlord is trying to use the storm as a bad-faith attempt to evict the catering hall because it has a below-market-rate lease that runs through December 2016, and also because the landlord operates a competing catering business. The suit also notes that Pier 17, the retail mall at South Street Seaport, was reopened on Dec. 16, despite incurring more significant storm damage, according to Bridgewaters.

The suit is asking for a temporary restraining order that would block any eviction attempt, and force the landlord to complete repairs needed to reopen the site.

Penny Glazier, director of communications at the Glazier Group, declined comment on the suit, and said company’s other executives were traveling. A spokesperson for the Howard Hughes Corporation said additional court filings are expected in January. The injunction request hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8.

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