Chaim Miller sues partner, then claims it was all a ploy

Dispute allegedly revolves around air rights for 205 N. 7th St.

205 North 7th Street in Williamsburg
205 North 7th Street in Williamsburg

UPDATED, 4:35 p.m., June 24 (Correction appended): All’s fair in love, war and New York City real estate. Even, it seems, a sham lawsuit to try to get some more air rights out of your neighbor.

On Friday, real estate investor Chaim Miller — fresh off a legal battle with Silverstein Properties — filed suit against his partner Howard Wasserman to try and take full control of the Modern, a condominium development at 205 North 7th Street in Williamsburg. On Tuesday, however, Miller — through his associate Sam Sprei — told The Real Deal that the suit was nothing but a technicality to cajole a neighbor into selling extra air rights.  

Sprei also said that Miller has sent a letter to a judge requesting to drop the suit. (TRD has not seen this letter and Lee Jacobs, listed in court documents as attorney for the plaintiff, didn’t return multiple requests for comment.)

Sprei declined to identify which neighbor’s air rights they were looking to buy.

The properties adjacent to 205 North 7th Street have roughly 2,350 square feet of available air rights each, according to PropertyShark.

The condos at the 10-unit Williamsburg project — which has been through at least two prior lawsuits, multiple stop-work orders and was stalled for years during the recession — are now beginning to sell, Sprei said. He declined to say how many units were sold and for how much, though.

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Jonathan Wachtel’s Lucky Boy Development owned the site previously. Wachtel bought the property for $1.3 million in 2005. Wachtel sold the Robert Scarano-designed property, known as the Modern,” to Wasserman for $3.3 million, TRD previously reported.

Miller and Wasserman are partners and co-owners of the building, Sprei said Tuesday. Peter Muscato, who owns a frame store next door at 207 North 7th Street, said this was the first he had heard of the air rights dispute.

Miller is no stranger to legal action. Silverstein Properties sued him in April, claiming that he botched a deal to buy the Beekman Tower for $137.5 million. The parties later settled and Miller is slated to close on the Midtown East property early next month.

In February, Chun Peter Dong, who co-owns 45 John Street with Miller, accused Miller of embezzling a down payment of almost $14 million on the property.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Howard Wasserman.