Lawsuits, liens pile up for developer of stalled Chelsea project

Italian firm Pizzarotti had expected to finish last summer

Jan.January 20, 2020 05:00 PM
A street view and rendering of 251 West 14th Street (Credit: Google Maps, Pizzarotti)

A street view and rendering of 251 West 14th Street (Credit: Google Maps, Pizzarotti)

After entering the New York market with a bang in 2013, Italy-based construction firm Impresa Pizzarotti has become entangled in lawsuits with developers and contractors on various projects in the city. And now, a project where Pizzarotti USA itself is the developer appears to be in trouble.

Marco Martegiani, CEO of Pizzarotti (Credit: LinkedIn)

Marco Martegiani, CEO of Pizzarotti (Credit: LinkedIn)

Construction on Pizzarotti’s 25-unit luxury condo project at 251 West 14th Street in Chelsea has apparently stalled, New York YIMBY first reported. And court documents show the property has been hit with a half-dozen mechanic’s liens over the past year, including two this month.

The company’s litigation load has also grown, with two lawsuits emerging in the past two months involving contractors for the newly completed Jardim condominium near the High Line.

Representatives for Pizzarotti did not respond to requests for comment.

The two latest mechanical liens on the stalled 14th Street project, from an electrical contractor and a concrete contractor, were filed on Jan. 10 and total about $86,000. Four other liens totalling $467,000 were filed over the course of 2019, two of which were subsequently discharged (replacing a lien on the property with a surety bond), while another was released following a discontinued foreclosure suit.

According to Pizzarotti’s latest annual report, published last year, the firm had aimed to complete construction by summer 2019. The current timeline for completion is unclear.

Meanwhile, construction on the Jardim at 527 West 27th Street, which Pizzarotti is co-developing with Centaur Properties and Greyscale Development, wrapped up last year. Property records show that closings at the project began in August. According to two new lawsuits, however, Pizzarotti could still owe subcontractors almost $1 million for work there.

In December, security guard company Brosnan Risk Consultants sued Pizzarotti for $158,000 in unpaid fees. And last Thursday, Pizzarotti opened a special proceeding over a million-dollar mechanic’s lien that MDB Development Corp. placed on the property in 2018. That lien was discharged, but MDB claims Pizzarotti still owes it $790,000.

Pizzarotti’s corporate structure. (Credit: Impresa Pizzarotti)

Pizzarotti’s corporate structure. (Credit: Impresa Pizzarotti)

Jardim and the 14th Street project were designed by Isay Weinfeld and are the Brazilian architect’s first two projects in the city. Weinfeld has a long history with Pizzarotti, having collaborated with the company on the La Petite Afrique luxury project in Monte Carlo, which was partially backed by members of Monaco’s royal family.

Pizzarotti acquired the 14th Street site from Ilan Bracha’s B+B Capital for $23 million in 2016. The acquisition was financed by a loan from San Francisco-based Bank of the West that had an initial value of around $12 million but was increased to $26 million last September, property records show.

According to financial disclosures from Pizzarotti, the construction firm holds a 61 percent stake in Fine Properties New York (or FPNY) LLC, the entity which owns the property. The identity of the minority partner or partners was not disclosed.

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