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New York AG gets court order to stop condo developers

By Mark Payne | Jan 14, 2015

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman | New York Attorney General's Office

A New York judge ruled on Tuesday that developers can not proceed with plans to convert an Upper West Side apartment building into condominiums until Attorney General Eric Schneiderman can complete an investigation into alleged fraud.

Newcastle Realty Services LLC, 101 West 78th Street LLC and Margaret Streicker Porres are prohibited from continuing with their plans for the occupied rental building at 101 W. 78th St.

The court order came after allegations that plans for the building submitted to current tenants and the attorney general's office were fraudulent. The developers allegedly said they planned to convert the building's 43 apartments into condominiums and offer them for sale "as is." Plans submitted to the city's Department of Buildings allegedly show that the developers actually plan to combine units and offer only 24 units for sale.

The developers also allegedly entered into illegal buyout agreements with tenants to get them to vacate the building and are not offering the tenants the chance to purchase their rental units, as required by law. 

“Developers who purchase occupied buildings with an eye to converting them to condominium or cooperative ownership cannot run roughshod over New Yorkers who rent their apartments,” Schneiderman said. “In attempting to clear the building of tenants to make a conversion easier and more lucrative, these developers violated the law and stripped tenants of their rights.”

In addition to ceasing all operations to convert the building into condominiums, the developers have been ordered to stop attempts to remove current tenants from their apartments. 

"Attorney General Schneiderman is to be congratulated for standing up for tenants at 101 W. 78th St.," Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said. "Unscrupulous developers like these are pressuring existing tenants in conversions all over the city, and this should be a warning to them."

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