Developers move to block builder of 1,000-foot tall tower in lower Manhattan
A Manhattan-based development firm is trying to stop a 1,000-foot tall luxury apartment tower from going up along the Manhattan waterfront, between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.
Little Cherry, run by Gary Spindler and Roy Schoenberg, filed a lawsuit Friday in Manhattan state Supreme Court against the project's developer Michael Stern, head of JDS Development. Spindler and Schoenberg claim that they are entitled to the development rights that Stern is using for his project—an 80-story, luxury condo tower at 80 Rutgers Slip, on the corner of Cherry Street.
A spokeswoman for JDS Development said that the firm has not received the lawsuit so it could not comment.
The dispute dates back to 2012, when Little Cherry signed a contract to buy the development rights and 235 Cherry St., adjacent to Stern's site, from nonprofits Settlement Housing Fund and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. Little Cherry planned a project that they said would have included affordable and market-rate apartments. But in 2014, Settlement Housing Fund and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council terminated its contract with Little Cherry and later agreed to sell unused development rights to Stern.
Little Cherry has already sued the nonprofits, alleging that they improperly terminated their contract and instead agreed to sell its development rights to Stern instead.
Friday's lawsuit accuses Stern of helping the nonprofits undermine their contract. In addition, because Little Cherry holds a ground lease on 235 Cherry St., it argues that it has to approve the sale of development rights to Stern and since Little Cherry does not plan on giving its consent, the firm argues that the deal is not valid.
"Little Cherry is claiming that, as a tenant, it has veto power, and that JDS is unlawfully interfering with its rights," said Raymond Hannigan, a partner at law firm Herrick, Feinstein representing the plaintiffs.
The developers are asking a judge for a monetary award and to prevent Stern from proceeding or pitching his project to the city or community. Last month, Crain's reported that the Department of City Planning was putting Stern's project on hold until the first lawsuit is resolved.