Eric Trump, a son of former President Donald Trump and a member of the condo board at Trump World Tower near the United Nations, has been accused in a new lawsuit of orchestrating a deal to convert a vacant Trump-owned bar into “amenity space” for residents of the condo tower — and secretly pass off the $1.75 million price tag to his fellow unit-owners, amNY reports.
Johanna Beiter, who owns an apartment on the 39th floor of the 72-story black glass tower, filed the lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, accusing Eric Trump and his fellow condo board members of approving the conversion of 2,500 square feet of vacant commercial space, formerly the World Bar, into residential “amenity space,” with little notice to unit-owners and no ability to contest the renovation. Residents are being forced to foot the massive bill for the project, including a $1.75 million “special assessment,” $300,000 in “amenity fees” amounting to 2% of residents’ annual rental fees, and the $190,000 annual rent for the space itself.
The Trump Corp., the property manager of the building and a subsidiary of the former president’s umbrella company, the Trump Organization, is also named in the lawsuit. Eric Trump is president of the building's sponsor, Trump 845 UN LP LLC, which will collect the special assessment, amenity fees and rent for the new amenity space.
A spokesman for the Trump Organization called the lawsuit's allegations "baseless."
The lease for the amenity space was not signed by Barry Leistner, the condo board's president and authorized signatory. Rather, it was signed by the two sponsor-designated board members: Eric Trump and Sonja Talesnik, assistant general counsel and vice president of the Trump Corp. Talesnik also manages Trump World Tower.
"The biggest problem, however, is that, based on the bylaws and the board meeting minutes, the board did not have the authority to sign this transaction or spend this kind of money to lease the space," says Beiter's lawyer, Joseph Goljan, a senior associate at the law firm Braverman Greenspun. "The problem is that what they were trying to do in secret was not allowed by the bylaws."
In addition to being a glaring conflict of interest, Beiter adds, alterations to common areas costing in excess of $200,000 must first be approved by a majority vote of all unit-owners, rather than just the board.
“We have a lease signed by both the landlord and the tenant by two board members who also happen to be closely affiliated with the owner of the unit,” says Robert Braverman, principal and managing partner at Braverman Greenspun. “Something doesn’t seem right.”
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