Real Estate

Real Estate

Resolving Disputes in the Real Estate and Hospitality Industries

Kasowitz’s Real Estate Litigation team has successfully handled a wide variety of real estate and hotel-related litigation matters, including partnership and joint venture disputes, contract disputes, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims, air rights and development rights disputes, investigations, foreclosures, workouts and other restructurings.  We focus on achieving our client’s specific goals, whether by negotiating a resolution, preparing for possible litigation, or litigating a case through discovery and trial.

We regularly represent developers, real estate investment trusts (REITs), borrowers, lenders, institutional and individual investors, majority and minority partners, and hotel owners, operators, and managers.

Our clients include BD Hotels, InterContinental Hotel Group, Beverly Hills Unified School District, Continuum Company, Hudson Realty Capital, SL Green, Maverick Real Estate Partners, Aman Resorts, Morgans Hotel Group, Hilton Worldwide and Parkmerced Investors.

Our real estate litigation team has been recognized as Practice Group of the Year for Real Estate by Law360 and is ranked Band 1 in New York by Chambers USA.   Our partners are recognized for being leaders in their field by publications including Chambers, The Legal 500, Benchmark Litigation, National Law Journal, Crain’s New York Business and Real Estate Weekly, among many others.

Work Highlights

111 West 57th Property Owner LLC in prevailing on appeal at the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, which unanimously dismissed claims of breaches of fiduciary duty and constructive trust involving the 90-story luxury condominium located at 111 West 57th Street in Manhattan, brought by AmBase, a former indirect equity investor in the project.  The panel also affirmed the cancellation of a lis pendens filed against the property.

BD Hotels and Chelsea Hotel Owner LLC, owners of the iconic Hotel Chelsea, in successfully ending a two-year dispute with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation Development prompted by a vocal minority of hostile tenants objecting to the redevelopment of the historic hotel.  After finding crucial evidence of an HPD exemption in the Department of Building’s files during an on-going trial against HPD -- that HPD had failed to turn over in discovery -- that undercut HPD’s jurisdiction over the building, and after seeking emergency relief from the trial court demanding the immediate dismissal of HPD’s case, HPD conceded by voluntarily dismissing its lawsuit and the Department of Buildings instantly lifted a stop work order that had stalled construction for more than two years.

New York City’s largest owner of office real estate, in winning a $185 million arbitration award against HNA Group (International) Company Limited, part of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, relating to SL Green’s $148 million equity investment in 245 Park Avenue, a marquee office tower in New York City.

Real estate developer Rotem Rosen in several lawsuits against and brought by his former business partner Alex Sapir.  After Kasowitz defeated a motion to dismiss brought by Mr. Sapir in one lawsuit and, in a separate lawsuit, obtained the dismissal of misappropriation of trade secrets and other claims brought by Mr. Sapir, the cases settled.

The Georgetown Company, a leading diversified real estate company, in securing an extraordinary summary judgment victory on counterclaims against construction firm J.T. Magen for engaging in fraud related to a construction project at a commercial building Georgetown owns in midtown Manhattan.  Read Law360's article about the win.

Calverton Aviation & Technology (CAT), a subsidiary of Triple Five Worldwide, in a lawsuit against the Town of Riverhead in Long Island, NY, Riverhead’s Community Development Agency and the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency, alleging that Riverhead and its agencies engaged in a scheme to evade Riverhead’s contractual obligation to sell 1,643 acres of property to CAT.

Beverly Hills Unified School District in its ongoing NEPA action against the Federal Transit Administration challenging the proposed route for the extension of the purple line subway in Los Angeles, CA, set to run under Beverly Hills High School.  The judge, agreeing with our arguments, directed the agency to examine alternatives.

DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners in securing summary judgment in an air rights and zoning dispute.  The New York State Supreme Court dismissed all claims against affiliates of DLJ, the owners of the Eventi Hotel in Manhattan, asserted by neighboring property owner Harmit Realties.  The court found that because the Department of Buildings had determined that the Eventi property complies with the New York City Zoning Resolution, DLJ had not breached the parties’ contract concerning the purchase and sale of air rights, and indicated that Harmit, by initiating a Department of Buildings audit of the hotel, may have violated its contractual good faith obligations.

Dismissal of state and federal RICO claims against the developer related to a 90-story tower rising on 57th Street in Manhattan, upheld by the Second Circuit.

Chelsea Hotel Owner LLC, the owner of the historic Hotel Chelsea, and its principals Ira Drukier, Richard Born, and Sean MacPherson, in defeating the City’s motion to dismiss our clients’ $100 million lawsuit against the City of New York.  The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied the City’s motion to dismiss all three substantive due process claims against the City of New York, holding that Kasowitz’s complaint adequately alleges unconstitutional deprivation of their fundamental property right in the Hotel and their permit, issued by the Department of Buildings and allowing them to renovate the hotel and that the City’s conduct in “quickly re-designat[ing] the hotel as a Single Room Occupancy Multiple Dwelling building without adequate investigation,” “refus[ing] to engage with Plaintiffs to substantively respond to their inquiries as to why the hotel’s status had changed,” and seeking “to conceal its wrongdoing by refusing to produce emails” in Office of Administrative Trial and Hearings proceedings infringed on the Plaintiffs’ property rights in an irrational and arbitrary manner.

Successfully obtained summary judgment against The Sapir Organization, a New York real estate firm, relating to its failure to close a $20 million transaction to purchase property in Las Vegas.

JLL in a construction dispute against a major Bay Area construction company over a development in Walnut Creek, California which required negotiating around standard clauses in the AIA contracts.  While settling the main dispute, we had to fight off more than a dozen subcontractor suits.  The matter settled confidentially.

Bridgeton Holdings in successfully securing a complete dismissal of a case pending in the Southern District of New York.  The court granted Kasowitz’s motion to dismiss nine of the 12 originally asserted claims against Bridgeton, and subsequently granted Kasowitz’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the remaining claims against Bridgeton for breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.

Successfully obtained significant preliminary injunctions arising from contract disputes with hotel owners.  One preliminary injunction, unanimously affirmed by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, bars the owner of a large New York City hotel from unilaterally terminating its license agreement with our client.  The other preliminary injunction, also unanimously affirmed by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, bars the owner of another large Times Square hotel from unilaterally terminating its hotel management agreement with our client.

Litigation involving the retail leasing of a 750,000-square-foot multi-level shopping center being built at Hudson Yards. Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States and the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center.

The sale of the Base Village project in Snowmass, Colorado, to a joint venture of East West Partners and Aspen Skiing Company, and an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners, all collectively known as the “Buyer.”  Our real estate litigators assisted Related with reaching a settlement with a third party that had filed a lis pendens against the subject property, which was intended to block the sale to the Buyer.

AAI, a military defense contractor with a transportation division, in connection with litigation in the Northern District of California arising from a project to refurbish more than 300 hybrid electric buses for the City of San Francisco's MUNI bus fleet.  AAI was acquired by Textron during the litigation.  AAI asserted fraud and breach of contract claims against AIG, as surety, and defended against claims brought by Skoda, the Czech manufacturing company.  Much of the case turned on construction-related claims related to project delays, design and manufacturing issues and supply logjams.  The case settled shortly before trial pursuant to a confidential settlement that was highly favorable to our client.

A large breach of contract action relating to the large luxury SoHo Mondrian hotel in New York. The case involved damage claims of over $100 million and was successfully resolved.  The case involved novel issues relating to the enforceability of hotel management agreements in light of recent appellate decisions in New York.  Kasowitz has represented Morgans in most of its significant commercial litigation in the U.S. since 2012.

A dispute between a former partner and the principal of Stellar Management relating to a multi-billion dollar portfolio of residential and commercial properties located primarily in New York City.

Prevailing on summary judgment, and successfully obtaining the appointment of a receiver and a new hotel operator for the Alex Hotel and Flatotel, in several actions in New York state court to foreclose on more than $300 million of loans secured by the hotels, and to recover on personal guaranties.

New Yorkers for Tourism in filing a hybrid action pursuant to Articles 78 and 30 in New York State Supreme Court to challenge the City of New York and New York City Planning Commission’s zoning text amendment to require special permits for all new hotels citywide.

An ongoing dispute among various parties involved in the 2014 acquisition of Aman Resorts, one of the world’s leading luxury hotel brands.

Providing strategic advice to and negotiating on behalf of a prominent South Florida real estate developer, as borrower and guarantor, in its workout of seven condominium project construction loans and 11 land loans, including the loans for the ICON Brickell towers and Viceroy Hotel.

Defending owner of the Savoy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, against a foreclosure action based on a $39.5 million loan, and counterclaiming for fraud, conspiracy, breach of contract and violations of Florida’s racketeering statute against the foreclosing bank.

Steel Equities in obtaining reversal of a taking of a parking lot to satisfy zoning requirements for Calpine’s Long Island Power Plant on the grounds that the taking violated the Fifth Amendment.  Calpine had signed a 35-year lease for property on which a power plant was then built.  The New York Power Authority undertook to acquire title to the land, relying upon powers of eminent domain. Kasowitz brought an Article 78 proceeding against the state, alleging an unlawful taking, and a separate lawsuit against Calpine.  After two years of discovery and hearings, The New York Supreme Court ruled that the New York Power Authority exceeded its eminent domain power in condemning the property.