Modern Spaces sues developer over LIC exclusivity agreement

Brokerage seeks $3.35M in lawsuit against Ascent

Ascent Development’s Tien Vominh and Modern Spaces' Eric Benaim with 45-30 Davis Street (LinkedIn, Modern Spaces, Marvel Architects)
Ascent Development’s Tien Vominh and Modern Spaces' Eric Benaim with 45-30 Davis Street (LinkedIn, Modern Spaces, Marvel Architects)

A major Long Island City condo project is now the subject of a legal battle between Modern Spaces and Ascent Development.

The brokerage has sued the developer of 45-30 Pearson Street for $3.35 million, alleging that Ascent appointed Modern Spaces as exclusive sales agent for and then dropped it without cause.

Modern Spaces, led by Eric Benaim, says it fulfilled its obligations — leading tours, providing sales data and developing layouts, floor plans and pricing.

“Modern Spaces remains ready, willing and able to perform its agreed upon services and obligations,” its July 1 complaint said.

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Ascent Development's Tien Vominh and a rendering of the project at at 45-30 Pearson Street (Ascent Development)
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“Our client brought this lawsuit to enforce its legal remedies under a legal agreement,” said Marc Lavaia, a partner with Warshaw Burstein and attorney for Modern Spaces. “Our client intends to vigorously prosecute this action to protect its legal rights.”

It is not uncommon for brokerages to be replaced as sales agents for condominium projects. It was not immediately clear what in Modern Spaces’ agreement with the developer would forbid such a decision.

Ascent Development did not respond to requests for comment.

The drama comes as construction of the project continues. Ascent assembled the development site by buying eight properties over the past four years for $33.8 million. In May 2021, the developer ​​secured $48.2 million in new loans to construct a 130-unit building — ​​30 percent more apartments than when it first filed plans in 2019.

The document that condo projects file when they sell 15 percent of units — or the project goes “effective” — has not been recorded for this project.

Modern Spaces has established itself as a force in Queens. The boutique brokerage did $5 billion in deals in the 2010s. It’s also no stranger to litigation, having sued Compass over alleged agent poaching and data theft as the big brokerage established a foothold in Queens.