Manhattan Real Estate News: The Durst Organization Fined for Developing Rental Apartment Buildings That Were Inaccessible to Persons with Disabilities

Posted by Staff Reporter ( on Nov 19, 2015 07:58 AM EST
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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: One World Trade Center towers over lower Manhattan on November 12, 2013 in New York City. The building was deemed the tallest building in North America today; the title was previously held by Willis Tower in Chicago (previously titled Sears Tower) (Photo : Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

New York real estate developer, The Durst Organization, is now required to ensure that all their ongoing and future development projects should be made more accessible to persons with disabilities, including to make two of their existing apartment buildings in Manhattan more accessible to persons with disabilities. The company is also required to provide up to $515,000 to compensate aggrieved persons, as well as pay a civil penalty of $55,000. 

            According to the press release of the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, United States and The Durst Organization have reached a settlement that resolves the federal civil right lawsuit that alleges The Durst Organization to be engaged in a pattern and practice of developing rental apartment buildings that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities or PWDs.

             "This is the ninth in a series of lawsuits that this office has brought against real estate developers and architects who fail to design and construct new apartment buildings accessible to people with disabilities," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

           Housing Wire reported that the government filed a case against Durst in April 2014 for building rental complexes that did not comply with the Fair Housing Act's accessibility requirements. Durst moved to dismiss the government's complaint in September 2014, saying that the company was not involved with the development of the buildings in question. The motion to dismiss filed by Durst was denied by the court last Jan. 9, 2015, and since then Durst has been pursuing settlement discussions with the government.

            When the government filed this lawsuit, Durst claimed that it should not be held responsible for inaccessible conditions at The Helena and other rental buildings - despite the fact that Durst's own website trumpets its role in developing those buildings. "It was only after the Court rejected Durst's argument that Durst finally accepted its obligations under the law," said Bharara. "Today's settlement with Durst makes clear that real estate developers cannot hide behind opaque corporate structures to evade their obligation to comply with the Fair Housing Act or avoid liability for violating that Act."

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