Falling ice capades: Extell sued over icicles at Central Park Tower

Bike rental company alleges developer didn’t take proper safety precautions

Extell Development's Gary Barnett and Central Park Tower (Building photo via Central Park Tower)
Extell Development's Gary Barnett and Central Park Tower (Building photo via Central Park Tower)

First, a dying luxury market. Then a pandemic. And now, a dispute over falling icicles.

Falling icicles?

That’s according to a lawsuit filed by a bike rental company against Extell Development and its contractors, including Lendlease, over a 2019 incident at Central Park Tower, the developer’s supertall skyscraper at 217 West 57th Street.

The company, Central Park Bike Tours, claims it lost six days of business and revenue due to the falling ice, and is seeking at least $150,000, plus fees, in restitution.

“Negligent ice maintenance and removal related to the project at the Central Park Tower caused a shutdown of West 58th Street and several adjoining streets,” the plaintiff says in a lawsuit filed Thursday in New York State Supreme Court. “Current and potential customers were either fearful of or not permitted to walk toward [our] store because their lives were in danger.”

Extell did not respond to a request for comment.

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217 West 57th Street with Extell Developement's Gary Barnett and Corcoran's Pamela Liebman (Photos via Extell; Barnett via Anuja Shakya)
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“While the city thrives on new development, building owners and contractors have an obligation to ensure their construction projects do not present a danger to the public,” the plaintiff’s lawyers, Pardalis & Nohavicka, said in a statement. “Despite previous incidents, warnings and shutdowns, the defendants did not take the necessary steps to ensure public safety.”

Central Park Tower is the city’s tallest residential building, and topped out at its full 1,550-foot height in 2019. It’s also projected to be the most expensive condo in the city, with a $4 billion sellout — though it’s faced the same pressures as other real estate projects because of the pandemic and the softening luxury market.

The Billionaires’ Row tower was issued two violations from the Department of Building last December over ice falling from the construction site and construction equipment. One reads, “Police on site. Street closed. No injuries.”

Central Park Tower has a history of safety issues that have resulted in litigation. In 2018, a sheet of glass weighing 2,300 pounds fell from the building, killing a security worker. Lendlease settled the lawsuit brought by the worker’s family for $1.25 million, although it continues to fight financial penalties.

In January of this year, the construction firm sued the DOB and the Office of Administration Trials and Hearings over a $25,000 fine imposed following the accident.