Harlem Condo Boards Suing L&M Development

Crains NY reports that two Harlem condominium boards are suing L&M Development Partners over defects and damage in their buildings, court records show. The suits are part of a larger pattern of litigation that typically crests around six years after co-ops or condos are built.

In 2012 L&M completed the conversion of a turn-of-the-century school at 220 W. 148th St. into a mixed-income condo building with 75 units. During the summer, the board alleged that the roof and portions of the façade leak and have sustained damage, requiring parts of the building to be enveloped in scaffolding. It is seeking $6 million for repairs.

“It’s a real hardship on people,” said Shaynee Rainbolt, treasurer of the PS 90 development, who said that some residents have stayed in hotels because of water leakage.

An attorney for L&Mone of the city’s most prolific affordable housing builders, countered that the developer already worked out one series of repairs years ago, and that the firm tried to negotiate with the board this time around as well.

“From the outset, we’ve been happy to sit down with the condo board to amicably resolve any repair disputes, and to make any repairs that we’re responsible for as the developer,” an L&M spokesman said in a statement.

The second suit against L&M, filed in late June four days after the PS 90 litigation, came from the board of La Celia, a 123-unit condo at 64 E. 111th St. The board there listed a litany of grievances with how the building was constructed, arguing in particular that the heating and cooling units are inadequate for the size of the apartments.

“There are first-time homeowners who took a leap of faith by purchasing in these buildings,” said Joshua Bauchner, an attorney with Ansell Grimm & Aaron who is representing both boards.

An attorney for L&M said the firm did not get adequate notice of the board’s issues before receiving notice of litigation this year.

Lawsuits alleging condo defects tend to happen around six years after the projects launch, because that is the statute of limitations for a breach-of-contract case. Most such cases are settled.

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