125 Central Park North owners sue developer

By Jen Benepe | December 31, 2007 02:19PM

A group of condo owners at 125 Central Park North, which broke a Harlem
record when it went condo and sold units at $850 per square foot in
2005, have sued the building’s developers for a total of $79 million
over what they claim was shoddy construction, according to court
documents.

The condo owners say that the apartments were not built as promised in
the original offering plans. The 17 apartments in the sold-out building
On 110th Street And Fifth Avenue, facing Central Park, sold for an
average price of $1.046 million (including one resale), according to
Streeteasy.com. A 1,356-square foot penthouse apartment sold for $1.675
million.

Conversion of the 11-story former hospital began in 2005. Four floors
were added to the top of the building, which has five penthouse
apartments.

The complaint, filed Nov. 2 in New York State Supreme Court, cites five
causes of action and over $31 million in damages against QJL, CPN
Associates, 125 Parkway North, and Sara Olsen, her partner on the
project. Developer Queva Jayne Lutz, who gained a reputation as an
unconventional deal-maker while QJL’s principal, died earlier this
year, meaning Olsen must now deal with the lawsuit on her own.

In addition, the suit seeks damages against the engineers and
contractors who worked on the building, including $20 million from
engineer Peter Franzece, $16 million from engineers Abraham Joselow and
Steven Kaplan, and $12 million from Rende Contracting Corporation.

Olsen and her attorney, Peter Voletsky, declined to comment, as did the
condo owners and their legal counsel, Debra Schoenberg, of Wolf
Haldenstein Adler, Freeman & Herz. Calls to Norman Horowitz, the
Halstead Property broker representing the property, were not returned.

The suit against QJL Associates states that the building’s construction
did not comply with the city’s building code. It alleges defects in the
bathroom ventilation systems, the kitchen exhaust systems, the
washer-dryer systems, the interior doors and frames, the exterior wall
brickwork, parapets, lintels, cornices, and copings, and the cleaning
and repairing of the façade.

The complaint alleges that the “south wall of the façade of the
building was not fully repaired, or was inadequately repaired and is in
poor condition.” The suit also alleges a “stippled effect” stemming
from a poorly executed waterproofing treatment, and a limestone veneer
that has “deteriorated” on the ground floor, among other issues.

In 1998, Lutz was sued by a loft tenant at 111 Hudson Street in
Tribeca, Shlomo Aslan. The suit alleged that Lutz, while working as a
broker and consultant, used confidential information she obtained from
another loft tenant with whom she was romantically involved. Aslan
alleged that Lutz planned to purchase the building in a foreclosure
action and then evict the tenants, who originally sought her advice on
their status as loft tenants, according to court documents.

The suit was settled after the tenants were bought out, Aslan said.