Hotel hold-up! Moinian wants $10M from stubborn restaurateur

Developer claims Havana NY is delaying plans for Midtown project

Morris Moinian and Havana Restaurant at 27 West 38th Street
Morris Moinian and Havana Restaurant at 27 West 38th Street

Developer Morris Moinian’s plans to raze two mid-rise buildings south of Bryant Park to make way for a 175-room hotel have hit a snag. The restaurant tenant in one of the buildings allegedly won’t vacate the premises.

Moinian’s Fortuna Realty Group is now suing HNY Inc., the owner of Cuban-themed eatery Havana NY, in New York State Supreme Court, claiming that its refusal to move out had delayed the hotel development and cost Fortuna more than $10 million.

Neither Moinian nor HNY principal Abbas Taghavitalab was immediately available for comment.

Moinian claims that his company provided HNY with six months’ notice that they planned to demolish the building — adequate time to relocate — despite having no obligation to give notice under the terms of the lease. The agreement states that the landlord can terminate the lease upon written notice to the tenant at any point in time, according to the complaint, filed late last week.

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In his written notice to the tenant, Moinian said the termination date for the lease was September 29, 2013, he said.

Despite Moinian’s efforts to force them out, Havana remains as the last tenant in the building. Indeed, Taghavitalab’s attorney told Fortuna that he considered the notice of lease termination to be “null and void,” according to the complaint.

The restaurant has yet to respond to Moinian’s allegations in court.

Moinian is demanding an injunction to force Havana to pack up, as well as damages in excess of $10 million for alleged delays incurred by the developer, according to the complaint.

Fortuna purchased the building and another adjoining property at 25 West 38th Street from Shimshon Klugman’s Quality Capital and Shifra Hager’s Cornell Realty Management last year. The company reportedly paid around $12 million. The hotel project is being designed by architect Nobutaka Ashihara.