Zeckendorfs, LA Angels owner play hardball at 520 Park Avenue

Billionaire Arturo Moreno backed out of $34M purchase, citing noisy equipment

520 Park Avenue; Arturo and Carole Moreno (CityRealty, Getty)
520 Park Avenue; Arturo and Carole Moreno (CityRealty, Getty)

The Zeckendorfs have sold more mindbogglingly expensive apartments than they can count. Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno is also no stranger to gigantic contracts, such as the $240 million deal he gave Albert Pujols in 2011.

The Pujols signing proved to be a mistake that Moreno was stuck with, but he and wife Carole Moreno did get out of their $34 million agreement to buy apartment PH-58 at Zeckendorf Development’s 520 Park Avenue.

But their fight with the Zeckendorfs is just beginning.

The saga began in 2017, when 520 Park Avenue was still a year away from being completed but buyers were already signing $60 million-plus contracts for penthouses.

The Morenos were shown PH-58, according to a federal court filing. During one visit, their filing claimed, the couple expressed concern about potential noise from a mechanical room with a tank and pump system adjacent to the apartment.

Zeckendorf agreed to take “all reasonable measures to test, verify, and specifically ensure” that the equipment room would not impair the Morenos’ “quiet enjoyment of the unit,” according to their complaint. The couple agreed in October 2017 to pay $8.5 million upon signing of the option agreement and the rest of the $34 million upon delivery of the deed.

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The option agreement provided that prior to closing, the developer would ensure the tank and pump system did not disturb the unit. But in the 15 months between then and the scheduled closing on Jan. 4, 2019, that did not happen, the Morenos claim.

The Zeckendorf Group eventually rescheduled the closing and provided the Morenos with a report of a sound test performed while the tank and pump system was not operating, according to the buyers. They declined to complete the purchase.

Then it was the Zeckendorfs’ turn to play hardball.

On Feb. 11, 2019, the developers sent the couple a default notice for failing to close. Days later, the couple responded that the developer failed to satisfy its pre-closing obligations. On March 1, 2019, the option agreement was canceled.

Three years and one pandemic passed. Finally, this April, the Zeckendorfs sold the unit to someone else for $32.5 million. But they were not done with the Morenos. In June, the development firm sued the Morenos in state court, seeking $10 million. This week, Morenos countersued in federal court for $8.5 million — the amount of the deposit.

Lawyers for both sides did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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