CW sues insurer over Sandy claims

 

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

 

By Sabina Mollot
It was 28 months ago when the wrath of Hurricane Sandy caused the East River to rise 14 feet and barrel its way into Manhattan’s East Side. In Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the gushing water caused unprecedented damage, destroying the management office and flooding basements and garages. But according to CWCapital, its insurance company has still not paid over a third of what the owner believes is owed for the damage.
The suit, filed last Thursday, said Lexington Insurance Co. has only paid $60 million of the repair costs and estimated losses that the owner has claimed were actually over $95 million. Adding insult to injury, the insurance company is also trying to bring the entire amount, including what has already been paid, to appraisal.

In its complaint, which is over 100 pages long, CW said the insurer, despite having its agents examine the damage on site, has “capped what it was willing to pay, regardless of the costs of repair.” Additionally, “Lexington simply ignored PCV/ST’s pleas for payment while at the same time, acknowledging that they were covered.”

The suit, which was first reported by Law360, noted how employees on the property immediately started work on the repairs to minimize the inconvenience to residents, which CW said served to minimize business interruption losses.
CW had hoped to get the insurer to agree on a $100 million settlement but Lexington and agents for Lexington from an insurance industry adjuster called Vericlaim “rebuffed those efforts.”

14th Street between Avenues B and C during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (Photographer unknown)

East River water buried cars outside of Stuyvesant Town when Hurricane Sandy hit. (Photographer unknown)

CW said it has since refined its estimate to reflect newer information and now believes the actual costs from repairs and losses amount to $95,296,483. The owner said the insurer has been provided with access to the property’s employees as well as the related documentation. “PCV/ST has responded to reasonable, and many unreasonable requests for information by Lexington and Vericlaim,” CW wrote.

CW also wrote that the refusal to pay the full estimate is the result of an “incomplete” inspection that was conducted in 2013 by an insurance industry construction consultant called Wakelee Associates. “Based largely on Wakelee’s results,” Lexington informed CW that the loss and damage amounted to about $60 million. Close to $53 million of that has actually been paid out, which, with the $7,500,000 deductible, reflects Lexington’s $60 million estimate.

CW also said some of its costs have been challenged in cases where equipment had to be replaced rather than just repaired. CW defended its actions though, citing in one example the property’s heat controls. The system had controllers that were destroyed in many buildings when Sandy hit. A different type of system was then installed since the original one was no longer commercially available.

CW gave some other examples of not receiving all it believes the property was owed, including in work relating to replacement of all the buildings’ cast iron drain pipes, which had all gotten clogged with water and debris. When dozens of onsite plumbers couldn’t unclog them, contractors had to be hired to saw through concrete basement floors, which meant additional costs to replace floors, drywall, tile and other property. A year later, Wakelee “took the position they could have been unclogged,” said CW, adding that there were no objections when the work was being done. CW said Lexington also accused the owner of having a “premeditated plan” to replace them.

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The document went on to list other things CW was stuck footing all or some of the bill for such as replacement of steel window and door frames that had been exposed to river water and had corroded, work at the old management office, now converted into apartments (specifically installation of equipment and furniture), damaged fire mains, asbestos removal from buildings, reimbursement for employees’ cleanup/repair work (since they were diverted from their regular duties to do it) and income loss from laundry rooms, garages and the fitness center.
CW is also attempting to block Lexington from pursuing appraisal.

A spokesperson for CWCapital said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for Lexington didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Residents close to construction site on First Ave. Loop fed up with delays

A view of the  future management office on September 2 (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

A view of the future management office on September 2 (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents on Stuyvesant Town’s First Avenue Loop, who’ve been dealing with construction noise for months, are now asking if the new management office will ever be finished. Along with the noise, other gripes from residents have included dust and debris blowing into their windows, the walkway between several buaildings being off limits and the continued closure of the nearly Playground 8, which is also getting a facelift. Residents at 272 and 274 First Avenue also recently saw flooding in their storage rooms.

However, “The biggest concern at this point is the timetable,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, who, in response to the complaints, wrote a letter to CWCapital Managing Director Andrew MacArthur to ask about the holdup. “It looks like there are a bunch of loose ends,” he said.

In the letter, Garodnick mentioned how he’d previously been told by CW that the construction on the office would be complete in August and that the playground would be done in May.

In mid-August, however, a newsletter from CompassRock emailed to tenants said there would be delays, with work on the office building expected to continue through the month of September. An explanation wasn’t given on the delay, but CompassRock said the final phase of construction had begun. The work included infrastructure being put into place and the space being wired. This week, a resident in a surrounding building said skylights were recently installed. In August, CompassRock said the next phase would be work on the green roof. As for the playground delay, management said the reason for that was “abandoned underground infrastructure encountered during excavation.”

But the end of the month deadline now seems unlikely since a photo, snapped by a resident in a building overlooking the construction shows that the project doesn’t look too close to being done.

Garodnick referred to the photo in his letter and also suggested that CW compensate tenants in the affected buildings with a one-month rent abatement for the inconvenience.Garodnick had brought up the possibility of a rent abatement to CW earlier in the year, though apparently, the owner didn’t agree. In the letter, Garodnick said he thought CW should “revisit the issue” due to the extended construction.

“Alternatively, (tenants) may be entitled to a rent reduction claim before the state housing agency,” he said. The letter was dated September 3 and Garodnick said so far there’s been no response. A spokesperson for CW also didn’t respond to T&V’s request for comment.

Still, the resident who’d taken the photo from his apartment on September 2, Michael Alcamo, said he appreciated Garodnick’s quick response to the issue. “All of us who face this construction site have experienced dust, dirt, exceptionally high cleaning costs and noxious construction smells,” he said. “We have not had access to our courtyard for nearly nine months.”

Additionally, said Alcamo, who heads an organization devoted to local tree planting, the work has led to the removal of healthy trees.

“CompassRock destroyed ten mature and healthy pin oak trees, in order to make room for its construction equipment.”

Another neighbor, who’s been having trouble walking, said a big inconvenience for a while had been how the gates put up on different sides of the Loop was confusing to the car service drivers she relies on, with them not knowing they were allowed in.

“I also had the use of benches taken from me for the summer outside Playground 8,” said the resident, who didn’t want her name used. “We were told construction would be completed months ago. The next set of benches are too far for me to walk to. It was a beautiful summer and I missed being out because I don’t feel ill enough to be in nor want to be in a wheelchair yet can’t walk far with or without the help of a person to hold on to.”

Another resident in an impacted building said that she’s been dealing with the noise by keeping the windows closed and the air conditioner on. She’s had to change the unit’s filter pretty frequently though due to all the dirt flying in despite being on a higher floor. The noise from the work was audible as she spoke on the phone.

But, she said, “It’s nowhere near as bad as it was over the summer. I’d say they’re in the last stages, but who knows what that means. They have a tendency to take a Pollyanna approach. You’ve still got a lot of uncovered dirt and a lot of banging and hammers going on.”

Management office work almost complete, a few playgrounds get new water features

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By Sabina Mollot
Despite the beginning of July being a holiday week, things were still eventful in Stuyvesant Town, where construction has been ongoing at the site of the future management office.
Work at the new facility should be complete some time in August, CWCapital said in a newsletter emailed to tenants at the end of June. Additionally, electrical work beneath the First Avenue Loop that had closed the road for weeks is now complete and excavation has been completed for the site. The work remaining is to complete the roof, which is currently in progress.

Meanwhile, although the work has been progressing on schedule, residents who live in the four buildings affected by the construction along the Loop have had to deal with construction noise that has started in the mornings as early as 6 a.m.
A spokesperson for CWCapital said this week that the work schedule was changed due to the need to pour concrete within a certain timeframe so the project won’t get delayed by adverse weather.

“This has required them to make minor adjustments to the regular schedule,” the rep, Brian Moriarty, said.

In response to the noise issue, Susan Steinberg, chair of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, pointed out that the city Department of Environmental Protection normally allows construction between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. Other times, off-hours authorization is required, which in this case management has gotten a permit for.
“Unfortunately, if management has the appropriate permits, there is not too much we can do other than let management know that they are making tenants’ lives miserable,” said Steinberg last Monday. “However,” she added, “if tenants think the noise level may be above allowable decibels, especially on weekends, they should call 311 and create a record.”

By last Tuesday, however, Council Member Dan Garodnick said that after being asked to discontinue the early morning work “for the sake of the peace of residents,” management told him no more work was expected to take place at that time.
“Which is encouraging,” said Garodnick. Last October, Garodnick co-sponsored, along with Council Member Rosie Mendez, legislation aimed at curbing variances that allow owners and developers to do construction work into the evenings.

In other construction news, part of the management office project includes renovating Playground 8, which has begun. According to CW’s last newsletter, the soon-to-come water feature at Playground 8 will have floor-mounted and overhead sprays that keep with the space’s train station theme as well as a new train for kids to play in.

A few other playgrounds in the complex have already been upgraded to include water features or improve the ones that had been there previously.
At Stuy Town’s Playground 4 and Peter Cooper Village’s Playground 2, existing kiddie sprinklers now also include ground sprays, overhead sprays and an interactive spray in Playground PCV 2. Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 2, which didn’t use to have any water sprinklers, now has a water feature that’s interactive and takes up about half the space of the playground.

On Thursday, July 3, a few parents at that playground said they welcomed the new addition as their kids ran around in the sprays.
Peter Cooper resident Stacey Pattillo was one of them although she also had a suggestion for management.
Noting that the sprinklers includes a cannon-like feature that can be moved from one direction to another, Pattillo observed that some of the littler children “come and get blasted” by the high-pressure spray aimed by other kids. “They should keep it fixed to a light shower,” she said. “You see some of the kids get walloped in the face and they get traumatized.” But otherwise, she added, “It’s very nice.”

In more property-related updates, the Oval lawn has officially opened to sunbathers, Moriarty said. Last week, the area was still closed off, leaving desperate sun worshipers attempting to catch some rays on the concrete next to the fountain.

Around the Oval and beyond, the grounds have been extremely colorful lately thanks to the addition of thousands of flowers, which were purchased from local nursery Emma’s Garden Growers.
In its newsletter, CWCapital said the new plantings include: 3,600 caladiums of mixed colors (planted along First Avenue entrances), 1,000 dragon wing begonias, 800 New Guinea impatiens of mixed colors, 800 coleuses of mixed colors, 500 periwinkles of mixed colors, 35 tropical hibiscuses and 35 canna lilies of mixed colors.

Truck flips on its side in Stuyvesant Town (UPDATED)

A truck fell on its side on a Stuyvesant Town construction site.

A truck fell on its side on a Stuyvesant Town construction site.

At around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a truck at the construction site for the new management office flipped on one side. A resident who passed by said he heard the ground underneath wasn’t strong enough and that’s what caused it to tip. The resident (pictured), who didn’t want his name used, also said no one was hurt.
However, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CWCapital, later said it was actually an imbalanced load that caused the truck to tip over.
“Earlier today, a ‘boom truck’ moving equipment into the construction area tipped over due to a misbalanced load,” he said. “There were no injuries, notable damage to the property or structural damage. All construction activities are continuing as scheduled. Before this truck’s boom was extended, construction personnel had cordoned off the surrounding area as a safety precaution.”
Another resident who passed through on Tuesday evening told T&V that there wasn’t pavement damage at the spot where the truck tipped over.

June5 Truck flipped residentNote: This post was updated to reflect information from CWCapital and a second passerby.

 

Outrage over outage at Stuyvesant Town buildings

The power shutdowns took place at 272, 274, 276 and 278 First Avenue. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The power shutdowns took place at 272, 274, 276 and 278 First Avenue. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
As part of the construction of the new management office in Stuyvesant Town, four buildings on First Avenue had their power shut down for a day. The power shutdown for buildings 276 and 278 First Avenue on Thursday, April 3 and at 272 and 274 First Avenue on Tuesday, April 8 was announced ahead of time by CWCapital in a notice to affected residents. The reason, management explained, was to upgrade the electrical switchboard in the buildings. In the notice residents were warned to “prepare for the loss of power” by shutting off unnecessary appliances and keeping their refrigerators closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The power shutdown also affected elevators, though emergency hall lights remained on and a Public Safety officer was stationed at the building sites.
As expected, the shutdown didn’t last beyond the scheduled time. However, the residents who were personally impacted by the work were naturally not happy about having to spend the day in the dark.
One resident, Beth Torin, told T&V, “The power shutdown at 276 was not only a major inconvenience but dangerous as our intercom was knocked out for Thursday and most of Friday.” She added that her cable, internet and phone “crashed” due to a power surge “with sparks burning out the cable box.”
Mark Thompson, who also lives in one of the buildings, said he thought the shutdown should have been handled differently. “While the work was necessary it was wrong for management to shut down electricity to tenants – many of them elderly – and force them to simply sit there without electricity for an entire day,” he said.
Thompson also wondered why management didn’t just rent a generator. “It would have been safer and more humane,” he said, adding, “It’s time to stop abusing people.”
That sentiment was shared by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who said he thought residents should be reimbursed for any food that went bad in their fridges as a result of the loss of power.
“It is not a good practice to shut off power in individual units for non-emergency work,” said Garodnick, “without offering people a way to recover things they will inevitably lose.”
The City Council member also said, in a letter to CWCapital Asset Management Vice President Andrew MacArthur, that he thought management should abate rents in those apartments for the day as well as compensate them for food.
“Please advise residents how they should document any losses, such as with photographs and/or receipts,” he wrote last Wednesday, a day before the scheduled work.
In response to the letter, a Brian Moriarty, a rep for CWCapital said management understood the concerns, but, he added, the work was necessary.
“We tried to mitigate the disruption by arranging for temporary power to keep elevators and common area lights operating,” Moriarty told T&V.
“We also provided a week’s notice so residents could plan accordingly. We were only contacted by a small handful of residents who had special needs and we worked with those residents to make appropriate accommodations.”

 

End in sight for construction project

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Representatives from CW Capital and CompassRock said that they hope to have the major construction on the new management office finished by this May at a meeting with the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association on Tuesday evening.

The new management office is planned for the space between Playground 8 and the buildings at 272, 274, 276 and 278 First Avenue along the First Avenue Loop and construction officially began on January 22.

The meeting, held at P.S. 40 on East 19th Street, was held to answer questions about the construction of the new office because residents have said they’ve been unable to find any information about the project, such as what the plans for the new building are, how much of a disturbance construction will be and when the structure is expected to be completed.

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