Robert A.M. Stern sues Icon Realty

By Adam Pincus | April 29, 2009 06:03PM

alternate textRobert Stern, corner lots at 80th Street and Second Avenue

Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the high-profile architectural firm behind 15 Central Park West, claims in court papers that a pair of young developers who planned to build a condo tower in Yorkville owes the firm nearly half a million dollars in unpaid design bills.

Stern’s company alleges that it signed a preliminary retainer agreement last May with developers Terrence Lowenberg and Todd Cohen, of Icon Realty Management, to be the lead designer for a new condo to be built at the northeast corner of East 80th Street and Second Avenue, a lawsuit filed April 24 in Manhattan State Supreme Court says.

The properties, from 1538 to 1544 Second Avenue, amount to a 10,000-square-foot site. The Second Avenue parcels, at the corner of 80th Street, are occupied by several small buildings, the tallest of which is five stories. No permits for demolitions or a new building have been filed on any of them, according to the Department of Buildings Web site.

Despite the claim that a more formal, final agreement was expected to be signed later, Stern’s firm went ahead and provided design work including exterior renderings, and after receiving two partial payments totaling $93,000, was still owed $497,429, the court papers say.

An attorney for Icon Realty, Robert Rimberg, denied all the charges in the suit and said it was an attempt by Stern to collect money that it may not be owed. He said the correct amount due remained in dispute.  

“The allegations are completely denied and Mr. Stern [head of Robert A.M. Stern architecture firm] has opted to try and be creative in a way to maybe collect some money,” Rimberg’s attorney said. He added that the designs were requested as a preliminary proposal, not as a finalized project.  Rimberg was not immediately available for comment.

Lowenberg and Cohen have developed other luxury condominiums, such as 985 Park Avenue, designed by architect Costas Kondylis.

Robert A.M. Stern did not immediately provide comment.