A resident of Trump Tower at City Center has sued the White Plains condominium and its board of managers to collect consulting fees.
Bruce Feldman, a real estate broker, is essentially suing his neighbors for $1.5 million for his work in challenging a mortgage and a tax agreement that he says were illegal.
Trump Tower has responded that Feldman never produced the results for which he was hired as a consultant and was not authorized to do work for which he seeks compensation.
“Bruce’s claims for commissions have no merit,” said James Glatthaar, the condominium’s attorney, “and we will vigorously oppose them.”
Developer Louis R. Cappelli built the 35-story condominium and the adjacent City Center shopping and entertainment complex. When Trump Tower opened in 2005, it was the tallest building in Westchester County.
The condominium did not include the parking garage at City Center. In 2008, Trump Tower acquired Cappelli’s interest in the garage and rooftop recreation deck and assumed a $4 million mortgage. Residents were assessed for the mortgage payments.
Two years later, the board hired Bruce Feldman Associates to negotiate new terms with the bank. His firm was to be paid 15 percent of any savings.
Feldman says he was hired to eliminate the mortgage and taxes. Trump Tower says he was hired only to renegotiate the loan.
Feldman quickly discovered that the mortgage was linked to a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, or PILOT, with the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency. By his analysis, the IDA agreement amounted to double taxation. He advised the Trump Tower board that the PILOT was unlawful.
Feldman says Trump Tower was not eligible for a PILOT agreement and the transfer of the garage and deck from Cappelli was not officially recorded until he alerted the board last year. Essentially, he claims, Trump Tower residents were making payments on property they never actually owned and his work enabled the condominium to recover money.
Feldman tried to get refunds on his apartment at Trump Tower. He challenged the city’s tax assessments and he sued Trump Tower, Cappelli’s companies, the bank and the county IDA. He withdrew that lawsuit last year.
He has billed Trump Tower for $1,532,250 in consulting fees: $786,000 for refunds he identified, $506,250 for savings on the elimination of future property tax assessments, and $240,000 real estate commission for the conveyance of the parking garage and deck to Trump Tower.
Trump Tower has refused to pay, so Feldman sued in state Supreme Court in White Plains in July, claiming breach of agreement and unjust enrichment.
Trump Tower’s response on Aug. 31 contradicts Feldman’s account.
The consulting contract was terminated in 2010, the condominium states, and Feldman was never authorized to represent Trump Tower on property taxes or PILOT payments. But Feldman continued to discuss the mortgage and Pilot agreement with the bank, the city and the IDA, Trump Tower says, and the board terminated his contract again in 2012.
No money has been recovered, the condominium states. No court has declared the mortgage or its promissory note invalid. The conveyances of the garage and deck happened more than two years before Feldman was hired and they were officially recorded long after the consulting contract ended.
The actions for which he seeks compensation, Trump Tower argues, constitute unlicensed practice of law. Therefore, there has been no unjust enrichment or breach of agreement and Feldman is not entitled to any compensation.
“I am no longer championing these issues or seeking justice,” Feldman said in an email. “I just want to be paid for my work.”