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Work on World's Skinniest Skyscraper Halted

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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Construction has halted on the world’s skinniest skyscraper, and it may not begin again any time soon.

Major investor AmBase is suing the developers of the 111 West 57th Street project, in Manhattan, over $50 million in cost overruns, according to reports—and that's not the only financial trouble.


AmBase has filed a lawsuit against Kevin Maloney (Property Markets Group) and Michael Stern (JDS Development Group), along with the lender for the project, Spruce Capital Partners, in order to save what remains of the $70 million the company put into the project.

The lawsuit details that Maloney and Stern "omitted some very significant items in their budget including cranes, which are very expensive in New York and can run into the millions of dollars,” said AmBase's attorney Stephen Meister.

In addition to the cost overrun-related lawsuit, Spruce Capital declared in June that Maloney and Stern were in default of a $25 million loan. This suit seeks to block the foreclosure that would ensue because of that defaulted loan. A foreclosure at this point would essentially wipe out AmBase's investment.

Meister told the NY Daily News that he suspected the default was deliberate, and part of a move to cut his client out of the project.

"There's no fathomable reason, other than a nefarious one," Meister said.

AmBase won a temporary restraining order blocking the lender from taking ownership of the project’s development. That order is in effect until Aug. 14, when the case is set to be heard in front of the State Supreme Court.

This is not the first lawsuit AmBase has issued against the building’s developers. Last year saw another lawsuit that alleged the developers were trying to dilute AmBase’s stake in the project. In 2015, the real-estate investment company paid $56 million toward a 59-percent share, but was unable to meet ensuing capital contributions.

The Superskinny Skyscraper

SHoP Architects, a firm based in Manhattan, originally designed the tower to reach 1,421 feet tall, with a height-to-width ratio of 24:1. These unusual dimensions would make it the world’s skinniest skyscraper.

The structure belongs to a stretch of upcoming luxury high-rises in Manhattan known as Billionaire’s Row. Other similar towers include Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park Avenue and Christian de Portzamparc's One57. All three of these qualify as “supertall”—buildings that measure from 980 feet to 2,000 feet in height.

The West 57th Street structure is supposed to be 82 stories tall, though only 20 stories have been built so far. In June 2015, the total budget for construction of the tower was $855 million.


Tagged categories: Construction; Lawsuits; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Residential Construction

Comment from Jesse Melton, (8/1/2017, 7:56 AM)

Why did a group investing $70 million in a skyscraper not notice the lack of cranes in the budget?

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