The Real Deal New York

Two Trees sued over Dumbo construction damage

Tenant says construction of Dock Street Dumbo has caused extensive damage to nearby rental

January 28, 2013 01:30PM
By David Jones

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From left: David Walentas and 66 Water Street

Two Trees Management is facing a lawsuit from a tenant at 66 Water Street, a five-story loft building in Dumbo, Brooklyn, alleging that the landlord has failed to repair extensive damage stemming from the construction of its adjacent Dock Street Dumbo rental. The plaintiff, Michael Brent Lavett, claims in a lawsuit filed Jan. 23 in Brooklyn Supreme Court that the excavation and development of the adjacent site has caused damage to the 23-unit rental property, including concealed leaks and large cracks in the building’s interior walls, split beams in the flooring and other unspecified damage.

The long-delayed Dock Street Dumbo project is slated to include a 17-story rental and a 300-seat school.

According to the court filings, Two Trees has ignored frequent complaints made about the next-door construction, which he claims begins at 6:30 a.m. during the week. Lavett contends that the landlord has also failed to file a multiple dwelling registration with the city of New York as well as failed to take proper safety precautions for tenants living in the building.

“Two Trees has done nothing [except offer to path sheetrock] in the way of repair or compensation, despite the DOB telling them it needs repair from the outside,” Lavett told The Real Deal. “We are afraid the next two years of construction are going to damage the building even more and we are scared.”

Rents at the 66 Water Street building range from $4,400 for an 837-square-foot apartment to $5,100 for a 1,447-square-foot unit, according to the Two Trees site.

DOB records show one complaint on file for a cracked retaining wall caused by the adjacent construction site. An outstanding violation from October cites a blocked exit at a ground-floor restaurant and bar. Department of Housing Preservation & Development records attached to the complaint show that the Dock Street building is not properly registered with HPD.

In a statement to The Real Deal, a spokesperson for Two Trees said: “All of the work is being done in accordance with Department of Buildings standards and we are monitoring all properties within 90 feet of our site to ensure that the work is completed safely and without disruption to its neighbors.”

Two Trees, led by David Walentas, is one of the biggest landlords in the Dumbo submarket, with 13 buildings and some 3 million square feet of space.

In October, Two Trees acquired the controversial Domino Sugar plant from CPC Resources for $185 million.

DOB officials were not immediately available for comment. A spokesman for HPD said the agency does not comment on pending litigation and referred calls to the city Department of Law. A spokesperson for that department said, “We are awaiting the formal legal papers and will review them upon receipt.”

A court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5.

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