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Virginia represents owners, construction managers, and trade contractors in the New York and New Jersey markets. Her over two decades of experience evaluating the merits of parties’ legal disputes, developing a specialty in the area of property and contractual rights with a focus on construction, has resulted in successful judgments and resolutions of claims for breach of construction and design services contracts, defective design and workmanship and adjacent-neighbor construction disputes. Read her full bio here.

This month the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission celebrated its 55th anniversary. Also this month, since the issuance of the emergency orders stemming from the COVID-19 public health crisis, the agency is scheduling its first public hearing using the Zoom teleconferencing platform. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 21, at 9:30 a.m., and can be viewed live on the LPC’s YouTube channel.

The public can even participate in the hearing by following the instructions.
Continue Reading Landmarks Preservation and the Economy During COVID-19

Excerpt of a contributed article published in the New York Law Journal on March 31, 2020.

Last month’s court decision ordering the removal of potentially as many as 20 floors of a high-rise building (The Committee For Environmentally Sound Development v. Amsterdam Avenue Redevelopment Associates, Sup. Ct., N.Y. Co., Index No. 157273/2019) shook

Although Governor Cuomo put “New York State on PAUSE” a week ago, at that time, “construction” was not specifically exempted from his Executive Order and the Empire State Development’s (ESD) guidance on what businesses were subject to the 100 percent workforce reduction. Yet, pursuant to a further directive from the Governor, on March 27, 2020,

As the Coronavirus has encapsulated the world, government go-aheads to construction firms are welcome relief to the industry. Lenders’ collective reaction to the current economic concerns is another matter. Future financing is always imperative to ensure ongoing construction as well as new projects.

Government responses are changing by the day, but the Federal Reserve (the Fed) has acted decisively and thoroughly in response to the economic threats following the Coronavirus outbreak. Staying true to its Congressional mandate to “promote maximum employment and stable prices, along with its responsibilities to promote the stability of the financial system,” the Fed has devised numerous strategies to meet the persistent demand for redemptions and infuse money into the market. It has cut interest rates to zero, coordinated with other central banks to encourage purchases of the U.S. dollar, committed to purchasing an unlimited amount of U.S. Treasury’s and mortgage-backed securities, and explicitly encouraged banks to reduce their reserves held against demand deposits (by eliminating entirely reserve requirements).
Continue Reading The Federal Reserve’s Powers to Pave the Way for Continued Development and Construction Through COVID-19

A $6.75 million judgment was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, against a developer that whitewashed 45 spray-painted artworks on its site — several months before the demolition permits were issued. See Castillo v. G&M Realty L.P., — F.3d —-2020 WL 826392 (February 20, 2020). The trial court had issued

Property development companies regularly create single-purpose entities (SPE) to acquire new real estate for development, construction or renovations. SPEs are often comprised of only a few members, and no assets beyond the property itself, and are considered “closely-held” companies.

There has been a growing trend in New York construction defect lawsuits in which boards of managers of newly-constructed condominiums that have sued the sponsor-developer-SPEs also name the SPE’s individual members as defendants. The plaintiffs rely on New York’s Debtor & Creditor statute Article 10, referred to as the “Uniform Fraudulent Conveyances Act” (UFCA). The UFCA authorizes “claw-backs” of money and other asset transfers as a remedy for some creditors.

Effective April 2020 in New York, after 95 years, the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (UVTA) will replace the UFCA. The new statute will contain modified definitions and clearer criteria for which transactions may be unraveled. The question is whether this will reshape the courts’ understanding of sponsor-developer-SPEs’ equity financing arrangements, which by their nature have created a conflict with the UFCA.
Continue Reading Will Claims Against Closely-Held Condominium Developers Be Thwarted by New York’s Newly-Adopted Uniform Voidable Transactions Act?

A subcontractor has liened the property even though the owner has paid in full for its work. The general contractor has disappeared. What should an owner do next? And will its attorneys’ fees be recoverable?

In New York, a mechanic’s lien, although filed in the county clerk’s office on the project owner’s land record, secures only to funds:

  • owed to the party directly above the lienor: each tier of subcontractors, materialmen, and laborers has its own “lien fund,” and pursuit of that is its only recourse; and
  • that have been approved for payment: if the owner did not by contract or change order consent to the payment sought, that dollar amount is not included in the “lien fund.”

Thus, if at the time the subcontractor filed the notice of mechanic’s lien, the owner did not owe the general contractor money for work performed, there is no fund to which the subcontractor’s lien can attach, and the lien is void. In such a case, the owner has several options under the Lien Law.  It should determine whether the lien is “facially valid,” i.e., without knowing any facts, the lien, on its face, complies with the statutory requirements. If so, the owner may serve the lienor with a “Demand for Verified Statement,” which seeks detailed information about the items of labor and materials furnished and the terms of the subcontract under which they were furnished. If the lienor fails to provide a responsive statement within five days, the statute sets up a path by which the owner can seek cancellation of the lien in a summary proceeding. If the lienor does timely respond, then with the information provided by the subcontractor, an owner can verify the lienor’s claim.
Continue Reading An Unfounded Lien: What’s an Owner to Do? And Can it Recover its Attorneys’ Fees?