Gottlieb building demo sparks legal battle

By Adam Pincus | July 29, 2008 02:40PM

The long-awaited demolition of the West Village Gulf Coast restaurant building owned by the family of the late real estate mogul William Gottlieb has sparked a legal tussle over a wall separating it from a Cary Tamarkin-designed property to the north.

The two-story Gottlieb structure at 399 West 12th Street and West Street is mostly torn down. Yet much of its north wall and some internal walls remain standing. A Department of Buildings partial stop work order has been placed on the site to protect the disputed wall.

To the north, the Tamarkin-designed loft-style condo stands at 495 West Street. The board of that building wants the north wall reinforced and repaired, because it considers it the property line. Tamarkin said residents also liked the wall’s aesthetics. However, the owners of the Gottlieb parcel want the wall demolished.

The wall, which rises to the second floor, is flush with the neighboring 495 West Street. It then continues east where it forms a wall along the loft building’s back yard.

The board of 495 West Street filed a lawsuit last week seeking an injunction blocking the wall’s demolition. At a hearing Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, Justice Marylin Diamond ordered the parties to come up with a plan to stabilize the wall or return to court Thursday, said Abigail Patterson, an associate attorney for the condo board. Meanwhile, the judge said no demolition was permitted, Patterson said.

Tamarkin said he designed his building, completed in 1999, to be cantilevered over the wall beginning at about the second floor, after a land survey showed that the wall was on his property.

Just after construction of the building was finished, the reclusive Gottlieb gave Tamarkin a call.

“He said, ‘Hey I see you built out onto my property.’ And I said, ‘No, we didn’t, you were already built on our property,'” Tamarkin said.

Tamarkin, who was not a party to the lawsuit, said those 18 inches, on an 80-foot-long parcel, would be worth about $240,000 per floor.

Tamarkin told The Real Deal in June that he tried to get William Gottlieb to sell the building to him, but the owner, who died in 1999, never agreed.

A spokeswoman for William Gottlieb Real Estate declined to comment.

Tamarkin is also developing a condo building behind the Gottlieb property, at 397 West 12th Street.