The Real Deal New York

Lend Lease hit with suit over Columbia University work

Subcontractor alleges construction firm caused cost overruns, seeks $24M in damages
By Mark Maurer | March 06, 2014 03:58PM

Lend Lease Construction, the giant Australian builder behind the One57 project, is facing a lawsuit from fellow contractors over a $122 million agreement for work on Columbia University’s 17-acre expansion project in Manhattanville, according to filings in The Supreme Court of the state of New York.

A joint venture of E.E. Cruz and Nicholson Construction Company are seeking $23.6 million in damages for an alleged breach of contract that they claim sent the project over budget. The firms, serving as subcontractors, accuse Lend Lease of late payments, extra work, inaccurate bid documents and a subcontract with design errors.

Lend Lease “failed to accurately indicate groundwater levels, failed to provide an adequate stability analysis, and contained other deficiencies, errors and omissions that resulted in a series of slurry wall excavation failures, which increased the cost of the work,” according to the lawsuit.

Columbia is at work expanding its new Manhattanville campus in West Harlem – a $6.8 billion undertaking that will take about 20 years. The Lenfest Center for the Arts and Jerome L. Greene Science Center are slated to open in 2016. The campus will run from Broadway to 12th Avenue, and between the corner of 125th and 129th streets and as north as 133rd Street. In addition to constructing the first phase buildings, Lend Lease is also tasked with relocating the sanitary waste line.

The American division of Lend Lease is based at 200 Park Avenue in Midtown East.

“Since this is a legal matter, it would not be appropriate for me to respond at this time,” said Mary Costello, spokesperson for Lend Lease, in a statement.

In September, Lend Lease and Extell filed a suit against their insurers, a group led by Zurich American Insurance Company, over an insurance payout to cover the costs associated with a dangling crane on the One57 site as a result of Hurricane Sandy, as The Real Deal reported.