Jennifer Convertibles disputes Rosen’s eviction claims

By David Jones | July 15, 2013 06:00PM

Jennifer Convertibles, the national furniture retailer, has filed suit against the Rosen Group to block an eviction proceeding at 902 Broadway, claiming that it has a valid lease and that the landlord should fix alleged code violations that form the basis for the potential eviction.

Jennifer Convertibles, based in Woodbury, N.Y., received a letter over the July 4 holiday stating that the Flatiron District building, managed by Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, had three building code violations, according to the July 11 complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court.

However, the retailer claims that the supposed violations — including stairwell railings and an exit door that were lower than the required height and the lack of a mechanical permit for air handling equipment — predated the original lease signing in 2010 and are the landlord’s responsibility. The lease is scheduled to expire in 2020, according to the complaint.

Rami Abada, president of Jennifer Convertibles, said in an affidavit that the company has since hired an architect and sought NGKF’s permission to fix the stairwell railings but has not received a response.

“The existence of the November 2009 plan proves that the defendant was aware of the alleged problem with the mezzanine door before the lease was executed,” Abada said in the affidavit, referring to architectural plans the landlord submitted to the city Department of Buildings.

Lawyers for Rosen said they would not elaborate beyond claims that the tenant has defaulted on the lease.

“My client is not inclined to comment except to the extent that the landlord is proceeding against the tenant based upon the tenant’s lease defaults pursuant to the lease,” said Lewis Lindenberg, a partner at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, who represents the landlord.

Jennifer Convertibles is paying about $46,000 per month in rent, which escalates to nearly $55,000 per month by the end of the lease term, according to a copy of the lease contained in a court filing.

NGKF won a contract in 2011 to lease and manage a Rosen-owned 19-property, 2 million-square-foot portfolio, which includes the 330,000 square foot building.

In 2011, Micro Office Solutions signed a 20-year lease for 33,000 square feet; asking rents were $39 per square foot at the time.

Jennifer Convertibles previously went to court with the landlord, filing suit in June 2012 to stave off an eviction claim based on alleged problems with the building façade.

Jennifer Convertibles filed for a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2010 and reemerged from bankruptcy in February 2011 under a new ownership structure.

A spokesperson for Jennifer Convertibles declined to comment and the company’s lawyers did not immediately return calls.

Correction: Due to a posting error, a previously published version of this story misidentified the CEO of the Rosen Group, both in the story and in the accompanying photograph.