A 670-foot, 58-story luxury condo project that is among the city’s tallest waterfront towers is leaning three inches north because of a faulty foundation, according to recently filed court documents.
The embarrassing snafu at 161 Maiden Lane deals another blow to a high-profile seaport project that has attracted deep-pocketed buyers for its floor-to-ceiling views, but has been beset by problems.
The project’s original contractor, Pizzarotti, has accused developer Fortis Property Group of skimping on the building’s foundation system, electing to go with a cheaper but less reliable method, according to a lawsuit filed last month in state Supreme Court. Instead of driving support piles down into bedrock, the suit charges, Fortis allegedly chose to use "soil improvement" methods to shore up the construction site; Pizzarotti began building on this foundation, only to notice the building begin to "exhibit a noticeable leaning condition."
The complaint further contends that the building, which has already topped out, is still moving and that due to safety issues, “the work on this project should not proceed any further” until the building's condition is evaluated.
As part of the lawsuit, Pizzarotti sought to break free of its contract obligations on the project, as well as recover money owed for unpaid work and cost overruns.
Fortis has fought back, saying that the "alignment issue" was created by the contractor failing to properly pour the concrete slabs and account for the settling of the foundation. A spokesman for the company said the issue will be corrected with the planned installation of a "slightly redesigned" curtain wall.
“This lawsuit is patently false from start to finish and nothing more than simple defamation and a desperate attempt by a failing general contractor to divert attention from the fact it defaulted on yet another New York City project,” added the Fortis spokesperson, in a statement.
A lawyer for Pizzarotti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Fortis spokesman declined to comment on when the "misalignment" was discovered but said that recent surveys reflect no further movement of the building. The company said it terminated the contract with Pizzarotti this month, and plans to continue with construction. (Ironically, a rendering of 161 Maiden Lane is still featured on the Pizzarotti website.) The project was originally projected to be completed in spring 2018. The company has not provided an updated completion date.
In September, the Commercial Observer reported that 72 of the building's 98 units were under contract. The anticipated sell-out value of the building is more than $275 million. Among the early buyers were Million Dollar Listing star and Douglas Elliman broker Fredrik Eklund, who was reportedly in contract for a $4.6 million duplex. Units in the building range from $1.2 million for a one-bedroom to $7.5 million for a penthouse, according to Streeteasy.
Construction safety has been an issue at the site. In 2017, a construction worker whose harness was not attached fell 29 stories to his death. The tragic accident resulted in a four-month construction delay.
To date, there have been 17 violations at the site, six of which are still open, according to the Department of Buildings’ database. A DOB spokesperson told Gothamist there are currently no active stop work orders at the project.
Back in 2016, when construction began, the developer was sued for trademark violation over its then name, 1 Seaport. The development is now known as Seaport Residences.