NYPL Scores a Victory Over Fifth Avenue Condo A Legal Dust-Up Reaches Its Denouement

The Mid-Manhattan branch of the NYPL (By Beyond My Ken, via Wikimedia Commons).

Last October, The Cooperator reported on a legal fight between the non-profit New York Public Library and the board of the Fifth Avenue Tower condominium association. The disagreement stemmed from the library’s attempt to undergo a three-year $200 million renovation, and the condo board's concern that the renovation would restrict access to a small park that separated the two entities due to scaffolding work. In response, the condo board had asked for a monthly $15,000 “inconvenience fee” from the library, and that it take out a $20 million insurance policy in the condo board’s name.

Now it appears there’s a resolution to the conflict. The New York Daily News reported last November that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth declined to impose a license fee on the library, and also refused to limit construction hours or give the condo board the right to review architectural plans.

The Daily News quoted Iris Weinshall, the chief operating officer of the NYPL, as saying “millions of New Yorkers will benefit from this important, city-funded project, and we are grateful to the court for ensuring that it will proceed without any unnecessary delays.”

The Law Review

The Cooperator reached out to New York attorneys David Berkey of Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, and Eric Goidel of Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel, P.C., to weigh in with their legal assessments of the case and its conclusion.

“Justice Bluth’s decision illustrates how a license fee is not required in every case,” says Berkey. “Where a party is viewed to be overreaching in its request for a high license fee, the demand may backfire, resulting in the party being awarded no fee whatsoever.”


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