UPDATED, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, 6:24 p.m.: Parking garages have emptied out as tourists and workers stayed home and about 420,000 residents fled the city. Now, one of the city’s largest garage operators is facing a barrage of lawsuits for unpaid rent.
Landlords have hit Icon Parking and its affiliates with at least 16 suits since the start of the pandemic, alleging the companies owe them more than $7.5 million. Kamber Management, which made the largest of the claims, says it is due more than $2 million across five properties in Lincoln Square. Kamber bought the garages — located at the base of condo towers at 80, 100-120 and 220-240 Riverside Boulevard — in 2017 for $50 million.
The management company and Icon could not be reached for comment. Icon’s owner, private equity firm HPS Investment Partners, also didn’t respond to messages seeking more information.
SL Green Realty filed at least five complaints against the firms, seeking more than $1.6 million in rent across five office and rental properties. Icon allegedly owes the most outright at 1515 Broadway — nearly $990,000 for April through July.
SL Green has already terminated the leases at three of the other properties — 810 Seventh Avenue, 485 Lexington Avenue and 250 Bedford Avenue — meaning Icon could owe twice the regular rent for every month it remains at the property, as the lease terms lay out.
Landlords and tenants have clashed about whether leases’ force majeure, or “act of god,” clauses free tenants from certain contract obligations, given the pandemic. But SL Green maintains that Icon and its affiliates are still liable.
The garage operator considered when signing the lease that “various so-called ‘force majeure’ circumstances” might force it to close at 1515 Broadway, the lawsuit states, but “agreed that it would be obligated to pay its rent even in the face of such circumstances.”
Attorneys for SL Green declined to comment.
Parking garages and lots are often viewed as a relatively stable investment, bringing in steady revenue until a development opportunity arises. Icon, along with its subsidiary Quik Park, bills itself as Manhattan’s largest parking operator, with more than 200 locations. Earlier this week, the Metropolitan Parking Association told the Wall Street Journal that in mid-August only 33,000 of the trade group’s 82,000 spaces were filled. Rafael Llopiz, president of the group, told the newspaper that August business is usually down 5 percent but dropped 60 percent last month.
Llopiz could not be reached for comment.
Brookfield Properties filed a lawsuit against an Icon affiliate Thursday, claiming the company owes more than $1.5 million in rent at 1114 Avenue of the Americas, known as the Grace Building. John Catsimatidis’s Red Apple Group filed two lawsuits last month alleging that Quik Park and its parent owed more than $200,000 in rent at 180 Myrtle Avenue and 81 Fleet Place, two apartment buildings in Brooklyn.
“Our game plan is, if they are not paying rent, we are going to find a new tenant,” said the billionaire grocer and developer. “Worst-case scenario.”
Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]
This story was updated to reflect another lawsuit filed on Sept. 3 by Brookfield Properties after initial publication.