Suit: Gansevoort Park hotel is demanding $5 million for construction access

Claim says hotel demands are delaying 65-unit condo conversion

The roof of The Gansevoort Park Avenue
The roof of The Gansevoort Park Avenue

The owners of a new luxury condo project have filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court alleging The Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel, located next to the site, is demanding a $5 million rights deal before they will allow construction workers to enter the property to install routine safety equipment for the conversion.

The suit, filed Thursday, alleges that the hotel owners and Centurion Realty, which manages the Gansevoort at 420 Park Avenue South, at 29th Street, have dragged their feet since July on a deal to let construction workers install scaffolding and safety nets at the hotel and a brownstone located on the other side of the building. Those installations are necessary to complete renovations of a new condo at 404 Park Avenue South, according to the suit.

Mark Todes, senior vice president of TC Property Management, which is managing the conversion, claims that he hired Sciame Construction in 2010 to plan the renovation of the former office building into luxury condominiums.

He says he and the construction firm were repeatedly rebuffed by Centurion and later by the Gansevoort Hotel Group after asking them for permission to enter the hotel and the site of the brownstone, at 45 East 28th Street, so the could erect the required safety equipment next to the construction site.

The hotel officials initially asked that the construction be delayed until November, amid concerns it would impact nightlife and outdoor access to the hotel. The hotel is known as a hot spot for some for celebrities from the film and music industries.

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After several meetings, the developers claim Centurion demanded the $5 million light and air rights fee, which they claim was a separate issue and should not prevent them from accessing the building.

The Netherlands-based Kroonenberg Group, is converting the former office building into 65 residential units, and Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group is reportedly handling sales. Centurion, led by Ralph Tawil, also manages the brownstone.

The developers are asking the court to issue a license that would allow contractors to enter the hotels from November 1 through March 31, 2013, and install the safety equipment. TC Property says it would need that time to renovate elevators and an adjoining rooftop at the condo.

The scaffolding would protect the hotel’s rooftop and the netting would extend 10 feet over the outside terrace of the hotel’s Blue Room bar and 20 feet above the hotel’s terrace deck, protecting it from falling debris. The scaffolding at the brownstone would involve access to An Unoccupied Fifth Floor Rooftop And An Outdoor Terrace.

The suit says that all the necessary permits were obtained earlier this month from the Department of Buildings.

Lawyers for TC Property were not immediately available for comment, nor were officials from TC Property or Centurion Realty.