Upper East Side plastic surgeon sues Macklowe over 737 Park conversion

Construction flooded exam room with yellow liquid; vibrations disrupted in-house procedures, lawsuit says

Harry Macklowe and 737 Park Avenue
Harry Macklowe and 737 Park Avenue

Macklowe Properties is facing a $14 million lawsuit from a prominent Upper East Side plastic surgeon, claiming that the condominium conversion at 737 Park Avenue has flooded his practice, blocked access to the building and led to multiple noise complaints from patients.

Robert Jetter, a Lenox Hill Hospital-affiliated physician filed for an injunction Nov. 30 in New York State Supreme Court, alleging that the condo conversion has caused severe disruption to his ground floor offices.

“The developer would like to think he has a vacant building and proceed with the renovation,” Jetter’s attorney Ranakdevi Londoner told The Real Deal.

Developer Harry Macklowe and Los Angeles-based CIM Group bought the 21-story apartment building at the corner of East 71st Street in August 2011, and plan to convert most of its 103 apartments plus six commercial spaces into condos. The building’s $360 million price made it the most expensive residential building slated for conversion since 2007, when Maurice Mann and Africa Israel Investments purchased the Apthorp on the Upper West Side.

According to the suit, Macklowe and the main contractor Hailey Development Group in January launched a gut renovation; the work, according to court filings, caused significant flooding from a sewage line — damaging ceilings and a surgical recovery room, and requiring the offices to be re-sanitized.

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Further significant leaks took place in July and October, according to the suit, flooding a patient consultation room with a mysterious yellow liquid. In addition, Jetter is alleging that noise and vibration from the exterior 8,000-pound hoist elevators and construction have made it impossible to use the main consultation room, and that the vibration has interfered with in-office surgeries.

According to the suit, no “Alteration Type 1” filings were made with the city Department of Buildings, which would give the agency oversight over site safety and require a tenant protection plan. He said filings with the DOB indicated that fewer than 50 percent of the building would be impacted by the construction activity, which he says is contradicted by a sworn affidavit from the project architect in housing court.

Macklowe filed its first suit to remove tenants at the building in September 2011.

Oral arguments in that case are scheduled for Dec. 11 in Manhattan.

Macklowe, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. DOB officials were not immediately available for comment.