The Real Deal New York

Judge dismisses Art Students League suit over Extell tower

Plaintiffs claimed league’s board improperly conducted vote on $32M development rights price
By Claire Moses | July 25, 2014 06:22PM

A New York Supreme Court Justice dismissed a lawsuit brought by more than 100 members of the Art Students League of New York against the League, its 12-member board and Extell Development Company.

The opposing members filed suit against their own organization – a derivative suit – in attempt to block the sale of development rights to Gary Barnett’s Extell.

Extell is looking to build a mixed-use, cantilevered tower at 225 West 57th Street, which is next door to the League’s historic, four-story home at at 215 West 57th Street. The plaintiffs claimed that the agreed-upon price of $31.8 million for 6,000 square feet of development rights — as well as the right to build a cantilever over the League’s building —  wasn’t enough.

As previously reported by The Real Deal, the proposed cantilever will be 28 feet wide by 88 feet long. Under the current design, the cantilever will begin roughly 200 feet above the base of the League’s building. Extell is planning to construct a 1,435-foot tall tower at the site.

Justice Melvin Schweitzer dismissed the case on Friday, ruling that the League’s board acted in good faith.

“The Board had a legitimate business interest in rallying the League’s members to vote on an extraordinary opportunity for the League,” Schweitzer’s decision stated.

The opposing Art Student League members claimed that the board improperly conducted the vote and that it didn’t provide enough information to make an informed decision. The court dismissed those charges too.

“The business decisions made were reasonable and in good faith,” Michael Volpe, one of the attorney representing the defendants, said. “The court has consistently and definitively upheld the actions by the board.”

An Extell representative was not immediately available to comment on the decision.