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A Room With A View

I admit it.  I was pissed.  Every year for the past fifteen years, I’ve had a private perch atop my fourteenth floor terrace from which to take in the July 4th fireworks. OK, it was just a partial view, between two buildings and I had to crane my neck and stand on my toes.  But I legitimately could see almost one-third of the glittery spectacle. Then NYU came – and built a towering monster of a dorm a few blocks away that cut off my view. Maybe God was telling me something because about the same time they switched the fireworks from the East to the Hudson River so I couldn’t see them anyway.  I figured losing your view was just one of the risks of living in High Rise Society.

Or is it? Depends. In a little noticed case, that I happened upon by accident, the court said the buyer could sue for a lost view.  Turns out she told the lawyer that’s why the reason she was buying the apartment, and he knew the view would disappear because he had represented the seller of the adjoining building and was aware the purchaser planned to tear it down and put up a taller one that would obstruct the view from her condo. Only the lawyer didn’t say anything.  NADA.

So she bought the apartment and sure enough she soon had a room without a view, which she said was worth a lot less than a room with a view, and sued the lawyer for malpractice.  And what do you know, the court said you got a case and refused to toss it out.

Then a buyer of a penthouse at the Plaza wanted out, complaining he’d been told that the apartment he was buying (but couldn’t see cause it wasn’t built) came with a view of Central Park.  Only when it was finished it turned out to be a bedroom without a view.  He, too, got the judicial approval to go after the sponsor – the only one in a position to know

Nice going, but I’m not holding my breath.  Practically everyday I walk by a Downtown stretch of Fourth Avenue and watch in disbelief as an invading hotel goes up in slow motion so close to the adjacent apartment building that residents are being cast into permanent Darth Vader darkness, the values of their viewless apartments sinking as the structure rises and they have only a brick wall in front of them. We took them to court, but we lost, one of the residents told me, resigned to her dungeon-like existence.

Some things have no good answers.

Read for yourself:

  • Romano v. Ficchi, 2009 NY Slip Op. 51011(U), May 22, 2009, Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co.
  • Plaza Penthouse LLP. V. CPS 1 Realty LP, 2009 NY Slip Op. 51799(U), Aug. 10, 2009, Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co.

To access these cases: go to Search NY Slip Decisions, then under Search by Citation, enter the year and number of the desired case.

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