Dakota board fires back in racial bias suit

February 16, 2011 09:57AM

Alphonse Fletcher and the Dakota (Fletcher photo source: NYT)

In a rare move, the co-op board of the Upper West Side’s famed Dakota has fired back at a former president who alleged racial discrimination by releasing financial documents detailing the reasons behind why he was rejected from buying another apartment in the building. According to the New York Times, the board filed a 237-page response in State Supreme Court yesterday to a suit filed by former president and money manager Alphonse Fletcher earlier this month.

Fletcher, who still owns three apartments in the building, including one that he bought for his mother in 2001, had claimed that the board barred him from buying a fourth, $5.7 million unit because of his race, citing previous instances of board prejudice he’d observed against actor Antonio Banderas and singer Roberta Flack.

In its response, the board denied those allegations with the help of tax returns, bank records and other documents that it used to conclude that Fletcher and his firm had overstated his wealth and simply could not afford the mortgage and maintenance payments for the apartment he wanted.

“There was absolutely no discussion of or concern about plaintiff’s race; he is a longtime neighbor, was repeatedly approved for apartment purchases in earlier years, has been elected to the board eight times, and has twice been elected by the board as its president,” Bruce Barnes, the current Dakota board president, wrote in court papers.

The board also claimed that it had rejected an application for an apartment purchase by Banderas, who is married to actress Melanie Griffith, not because of discrimination against Hispanics, as Fletcher had said, but because “since the assassination of building resident John Lennon, the board has been reluctant to welcome new residents who will attract public attention.” [NYT]