SMA suing Gene Kaufman over botched Nolita condo specs

Developer sold 152 Elizabeth on the cheap due to architect's advice: suit
By Rey Mashayekhi | September 11, 2015 02:15PM

SMA Equities is suing architect Gene Kaufman for almost $9.5 million — with the developer claiming it sold its Nolita condo development site at 152 Elizabeth Street on the cheap last year because Kaufman “negligently misrepresented” the property’s buildable square footage.

Great Neck-based SMA offloaded the development site at 152 Elizabeth Street to Chelsea firm Sumaida + Khurana for $21 million in February 2014, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in New York State Supreme Court.

But SMA alleges that it sold the property for $9.45 million less than it was actually worth because Kaufman, who was advising SMA on development prospects, “opined that the [site’s] maximum buildable residential square footage was around 14,000 square feet” under zoning rules, according to the lawsuit.

The developer claims it later discovered that Sumaida + Khurana’s seven-story, Tadao Ando-designed condo project on the site would feature around 20,300 square feet of interior residential space – including nearly 6,400 square feet “that were not possible, in [Kaufman’s] professional opinion,” the complaint says.

SMA is suing Kaufman and his firm, Gene Kaufman Architect, for breach of contract, negligence, unjust enrichment and negligent misrepresentation. The company is seeking $9.45 million in damages connected to the $21 million sale of 152 Elizabeth Street, as well as $80,000 in services allegedly paid to Kaufman.

Neither Kaufman nor legal representatives for SMA responded to requests for comment.

Sumaida + Khurana recently secured a $40 million construction loan from Deutsche Bank for the condo development, where half-floor residences will start at $5.9 million and full-floor condos will start at $15 million.