Not your average lien: Pierre Hotel, contractor squabble over nearly everything

Luxury Midtown tower says small-time Saga quit; Saga says it’s owed millions

The Pierre hotel (The Pierre, Getty Images)
The Pierre hotel (The Pierre, Getty Images)

A luxury hotel unwilling to pay. A subcontractor refusing to work. The fate of Saga Management Group’s mechanic’s lien against The Pierre may depend on which occurred first.

But the disagreements between the two don’t end there. Not even close.

Attorneys for the Midtown hotel sued last week to have the lien thrown out. Such disputes happen all the time in New York construction, but this one is odd for a number of reasons.

The two sides cannot agree on the most basic facts of the case, such as the price of the job, when work started and stopped, or even the name of the hotel, let alone how much money is owed.

Also unclear is what a smallish fence installer from Suffolk County was doing on a multimillion-dollar construction job at a towering Manhattan hotel.

The trouble began when the Pierre needed work on its facade. The 41-story, 714-room hotel at 2 East 61st Street had initially a different contractor on the job. That firm then assigned the remainder of the work to Long Island–based Saga in June 2020, according to Pierre Hotel’s petition.

It was unclear what went wrong between the two, but on June 23, 2022, Saga filed a lien alleging that Pierre had not paid it $3.3 million out of a total of $5 million for the assignment. Saga also claimed that it began work in January 2020; the Pierre said Saga was not even brought onto the job until six months later.

Saga’s website says it specializes in fences and gates, property maintenance, snow removal, clean-ups and preventive maintenance. Photos of its projects show three suburban fences. It identified itself as a “Long Island fence installer.”

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But its lien says its work at the Pierre included “facade repair, steel repair, backup masonry repair, caulking mortar, terracotta stones, bird spikes, steel pain, glaze pins, threaded rod, roof membrane, cinder blocks, brick ties, cement, epoxy, and other construction work.”

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A month after the lien was filed, the Pierre asked the court to toss it, calling Saga’s statements largely embellished. The hotel said the lien did not even get its name right, calling it the Indian Hotels Company Limited — though, to be fair, the Pierre is a Taj hotel and Taj is part of the IHCL portfolio.

Things went downhill from there.

The Pierre took immediate issue with the agreed price for the work, describing it as “dramatically in excess” of the actual number. It also alleged the lien amount was “willfully exaggerated.”

According to the hotel, the price of the job was not $5 million but $4.3 million, and the unpaid amount was $2.4 million. That corresponded to unfinished work because Saga had abandoned the project, the hotel argued. The Pierre called the alleged inaccuracies violations of the Lien Law.

It then disputed when Saga wrapped up, alleging that the last date when it completed “substantive work” was more than eight months prior to what Saga claimed in its lien.

Liens can only be filed either during the work or within eight months of it. According to the Pierre, Saga filed its action too late.

Neither the Pierre’s lawyers nor Saga responded to requests for a comment. The hotel itself declined to comment.