The company behind one of the highest-profile projects in the history of the Garden State is being taken to court over misrepresentations they supposedly made in marketing their building along with a slew of alleged defects and problems that have purportedly gone unaddressed at the property.
On January 15, seven plaintiffs filed a scathing 59-page lawsuit in Hudson County Court against the developers of Jersey City’s 99 Hudson Street. The filers are all under contract to purchase units at the property and named COA 99 Hudson LLC and China Overseas America as defendants in the case.
The 79-story tower has been rising a block from the Hudson River since 2016 and sports 781 condominiums in an amenity-rich environment with sprawling views of Manhattan, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
The prospective buyers’ lawsuit says China Overseas assured them of an “all-encompassing lifestyle experience” in promotion of the property that was “false and misleading” and contradicted a Public Offering Statement (POS) they received upon agreeing to buy at the building.
China Overseas allegedly amended the POS after the plaintiffs signed their respective sales agreements and proceeded to revise architectural plans by removing certain dimensions and measurements. That reality, according to the lawsuit, resulted in smaller units than the buyers had been promised.
“The square footage of the plaintiffs’ units is estimated to be 10 to 20 percent smaller than the dimensions as stated on the POS and the marketing materials,” the complaint says.
One of the plaintiffs, Yujiao Zhang, claims in the lawsuit that she was only allowed one hour immediately before her scheduled closing to conduct an inspection of the unit she agreed to purchase. Zhang, who was set to purchase a $1.59 million condo in the building, also claims China Overseas indicated to her that “she would not be allowed to delay closing even on discovery of substantive issues with the unit during her inspection.”
The lawsuit additionally claims that China Overseas was not upfront about the cost of living at the building, as they amended the POS to dictate owners on the Condominium Association Board pay 25% of the cost for the residential unit that is occupied by the superintendent.
China Overseas supposedly also never disclosed a separate special assessment against condo owners that is due to the Exchange Place Special Improvement District. “As a result of these amendments, plaintiffs, among other unit owners, will have to make significant monetary payments,” the filing says.
The lawsuit goes on to allege 19 separate problems that have reportedly been discovered at the development. They include issues like cracks in the structure’s parking garage that have caused water leakage, broken skirting boards and base molding, wood flooring that has large gaps between planks, and multiple units that have cracks on the ceilings and walls.
Repairs following a water line break in one unit allegedly revealed a thin wall that contained low quality and sparse insulation. The case even claims that workers discovered an unfinished bottle of fruit juice with an expiration date of July 2019 behind the sheetrock.
Multiple residents at 99 Hudson have reported that their HVAC units are not functioning properly, and several units allegedly have no hot water access. The case claims that windows in multiple condos have gaps between the walls that have caused management to seal certain panes, some of which have been secured with tape from the exterior of the building.
The filing claims this particular issue is so widespread that China Overseas America’s Director of Sales Gary Cicerello “admitted in a virtual town hall meeting that almost all of the windows [in] the units of the property need further fixing before they can safely open.”
All the plaintiffs in the lawsuit agreed to buy units priced over $783,000 and claim to have repeatedly tried to cancel their contracts. Supposedly, their requests have been “repeatedly delayed and ignored” and their deposit money is still being held in escrow with law firm Connell Foley LLP, who is named an additional defendant in the case.
An inquiry regarding the litigation placed by Jersey Digs to the PR team representing China Overseas has not yet been answered.
The lawsuit seeks damages for breach of contract, violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, and violation of New Jersey’s Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act, along with a declaration that the plaintiffs’ sales agreements are null and void.