Judge puts hold on Dermot crane at 21 West End Avenue project

Company sued for allegedly planning to put tower crane on private property
By David Jones | March 18, 2014 10:30AM

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against Dermot Company, the developer of The Planned 21 West End Avenue luxury tower.

The order was granted by Judge Marcy Friedman late last week after Dermot was sued by Atlantic Development Group. That company is seeking to block Dermot’s use of A Tower Crane On A Privately Owned Street next to the Riverside South construction site.

Dermot in 2012 announced plans, in tandem with the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust, to develop a 43-story apartment complex at the corner of West 61st Street and West End Avenue. The property was set to include 616 rental units, a four-story public school and almost 24,000 square feet of retail space.

Atlantic already has two buildings with 330 rental apartments, plus five ground floor retail tenants and owns two adjoining streets. According to the suit, Dermot announced at the time that it would use part of the land owned by the plaintiffs for the new construction, but it was told that the privately owned West 61st Street site could not be used until it was conveyed to the city.

Michael Stolper, the attorney representing Senior Living, a not-for-profit with ties to Atlantic Development, says he contacted Drew Spitler, director of development, at Dermot to negotiate an agreement for an alternate site, but was rebuffed and later threatened. He says the position of the crane would have been right in front of the main building entrance and would have impeded the retail stores on the same street.

“Our willingness to cooperate and work in good faith was one sided,” said Stolper in a sworn affidavit. “Dermot’s position and attitude throughout our discourse was one of entitlement, not cooperation and compromise. Spitler consistently contended that Dermot had the right to not only access the private street, but to also dig it up for its own purpose.”

A spokesperson for Dermot could not immediately be reached for comment.

Stolper, in the affidavit, says he offered on March 7 to give Dermot one day to complete the crane-related work, and any further use would require a payment of $50,000 per diem. He claims that offer was rejected with an ultimatum: drop the fee requirement or file for an injunction. Stolper also alleges that Dermot said he would “unleash holy hell” on his client if they tried to hold up the $450 million project.

By March 12, contractors for Dermot came to the property to demand that the building staff remove cars and two dumpsters by the following day, according to court papers. Stolper also claims that Dermot applied for a crane permit, but failed to disclose the dispute or the fact that the crane would be operating on a private street.