The Real Deal New York

UES couple sues Duane Reade over view-blocking HVAC installation plans

June 07, 2013 04:00PM

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From left: Yaira Singer, Matthew Binstock and 401 East 86th Street

From left: Yaira Singer, Matthew Binstock and 401 East 86th Street

An Upper East Side couple has filed a lawsuit against drug store Duane Reade and their building’s co-op board over the planned installation of an 8-foot-high air conditioning unit, claiming it will block their duplex’s view, the New York Post reported. Moreover, the air conditioner, which would be located just outside the couple’s home, would allegedly hurt the property’s value.

Architect Yaira Singer and financial adviser Matthew Binstock are seeking $5 million in damages and a court ruling blocking the installation of the venting system. They claim that their 401 East 86th Street apartment “will be compromised as to safety and security, obstruction of views, vibration, subjected to excessive noise, possible air pollution and other toxic emissions, all of which constitute a nuisance,” the suit reads.

The couple, who are expecting their third child, were reportedly close to receiving permission for turning the Duane Reade roof – where the venting system is slated to be installed — into their own personal space.

“No shareholder has a right to absolute silence,” Stuart Saft, an attorney at Holland & Knight who represents the co-op board, said in court papers.

Duane Reade declined the Post’s request for comment. [NYP]Zachary Kussin

  • Oouch

    The question is one of easements and values. Saft asserts, “No shareholder has a right to absolute silence.” That would hardly seem to be the case on East 86th Street two floors up from the sidewalk under any circumstances. What is more to the point, however, is, “does a coop corporation have the right to sell a shareholder’s right to quiet enjoyment?” Saft knows this, and has taken this opposite position as counsel in the past. What is more, there may have been people on the board of this building who exercised spite and malice toward this couple who were perceived as taking advantage of an estate sale to expand and acquire their 3,000 + SF duplex- considered expansive in a building with largely smaller apartments. As shareholders, who may have had their own application providing an alternative use and fee, the claimants may be entitled to discovery before the board and its minutes that a non-shareholder would not have.

    The magnitude of the impact of having a 20,000 ton HVAC unit outside one’s window, even if it is properly installed on pads, should not be so easily dismissed. Its impact on the air and light quality upon the 2J/3J/H apartment may well remove usable or resaleable bedrooms from its count, and will certainly adversely impact light by its proximity. These are quantifiable financial impacts. As HVAC’s also shed heat and noxious air, the claimant’s apartment will also lose available ventilation and will be dependent upon running its own air conditioning for much of the year increasing its energy costs.

    Duane Reade has an alternative of placing its equipment on the building’s true roof at a far higher installation cost than on the setback. But, as other adjacent tenants start to consider the adverse impact upon their apartment’s in noise, dirt and heat shed, the building may find itself in an increasing predicament.

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