Landmark Owner Sues Architect Over Renovation

143 Bergen Street in Brooklyn. Image Credit: CityLaw.

Architect failed to submit plans to Commission for renovation of landmarked building; owner had to remove alterations. In 2008, Lorraine and Edward Gerrity, the owners of a landmarked building located at 143 Bergen St. in Brooklyn, contracted with architects Herbert Ruderman and George Restivo to renovate their home. The architects submitted plans to Buildings and to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which approved the alteration to the landmarked building. The Gerritys then made changes in the plans. Buildings approved the second set of plans with a ten foot extension on all three levels of the building, and an excavation of the backyard. The architects assured the Gerritys that the necessary approvals had been obtained and that they were free to move forward with their construction.

Ruderman and Restivo, however, never submitted the changes to Landmarks. Landmarks did not approve an additional five foot expansion on the third floor, nor an excavation of the backyard.

In 2010, after the work was completed, Landmarks notified the Gerritys that the extension on the third floor and the excavated backyard had not been submitted to or approved by Landmarks. Landmarks directed the Gerritys to remedy the non-compliant work. The Gerritys were required to demolish five feet of the third floors addition and re-fill the excavated back yard.

The Gerritys sued Ruderman and Restivo for breach of contract and negligence. The Supreme Court, Kings County, granted the Gerrity’s summary judgment on liability.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed summary judgment in favor of the Gerrity’s. The Appellate Division ruled that the architects breached the contract by failing to obtain the required approval from Landmarks and were negligent when they departed from accepted standards of practice in the architectural profession.

143 Bergen Street, LLC v. Ruderman, 42 N.Y.S.3d 252 (2d Dep’t Nov. 23, 2016) (Attorneys: Simon M. Orner, for 143 Bergen; Joseph O. Giaimo, for Ruderman).

By: Shannon Lashlee (Shannon is a student at New York Law School, Class of 2017).

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