A Long Island luxury home builder claims its business venture with a controversial New York hotel developer went bust and now two projects are in jeopardy.
Uri and David Hason of Pinewood Development sued Arik Kislin in Nassau County court Monday, alleging breach of “common law partnership” over joint ventures to build three luxury housing projects on Long Island.
The lawsuit alleges that as a result of Kislin’s actions, subcontractors have gone unpaid and two of the projects — a 23-home development in Dix Hills and The Polo Club, a 55-and-over community in Islandia — are now in jeopardy. A third development, referred to as the Calverton project in Brookhaven, was sold recently without Hason’s consent, according to the suit.
The complaint alleges that Kislin and Kislin entities requisitioned money from the bank that was earmarked for subcontractor fees and Pinewood’s management fees. But that money never made it to the subcontractors or to Pinewood, and its whereabouts are unknown, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint filed by New York attorney Adam Leitman Bailey alleges that Pinewood is owed $181,900 in unpaid management fees for the Polo Club project and over $340,000 in unpaid management fees for the Dix Hills project.
The Polo Club is now in arrears of at least $886,000, according to the complaint, which claims the Dix Hills project is in arrears of more than $1.9 million and mechanics’ liens totaling over $526,000.
All told, the plaintiffs are seeking judgment on 10 separate counts, claiming damages which they believe to be in excess of $31 million.
“I have never seen such deliberate conduct in a civil case before except when watching a gangster movie,” said Bailey.
A spokesperson for Kislin said all the money has been accounted for and denied the allegations in the lawsuit. He said Kislin and the Hasons are in a business dispute over a planned sale of a single lot in the Dix Hills community for $2.5 million.
“We [Kislin’s team] agreed to put it into escrow, but Uri [Hason] won’t consent because we won’t give him the disputed amount,” the spokesperson said. “These are facts.”
The spokesperson said Uri Hason is asking Kislin to pay charges that occurred under a previous contract and previous investor, prior to Kislin partnering in the project in early 2019. He said that the contract is no longer valid.
“Uri wants more money,” the spokesman said. “We would not agree to pay the disputed amount from the proceeds of the sale.”
Kislin’s first major real estate venture in New York was the development of the Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District out of a former Nabisco factory in the 1990s. He went on to co-found the Gansevoort Hotel Group, which owns the Gansevoort Meatpacking luxury hotel.
He became the subject of media scrutiny in 2012 over his and family members’ alleged ties to Russian organized crime. The allegations came to light after Caesars Entertainment, which had a licensing agreement with Kislin’s Gansevoort, sought to build a casino in East Boston and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission released an investigative report assessing the merits of these allegations. Caesar eventually ditched its plans to build the casino.
Kislin’s spokesman strongly denied the alleged ties and said Kislin has never been accused or charged with a crime.
“Arik Kislin has only had lawful and genuine businesses and ventures and is and has been an upstanding, positively contributing member of every community of which he has been a part,” according to the spokesperson. “These comments and assertions have not only been baseless, but serve to reopen and reestablish old wounds that adversely affect his reputation, so that anyone who may want to change a deal, modify or exit can threaten him with actual harm.”