A federal magistrate has recommended dismissal of a failed condominium developer’s lawsuit against the City of Lockport.
Lockport Condominium Development LLC, developer of the so-called Victorian Village condos at 501 Park Lane Circle, sued the city and particular administrators, including Mayor Michael Tucker and two now-retired building inspectors, in late 2009 claiming they violated its civil rights and caused the condo project to fail. The company, led by managing partner Edward Lewis, sought a $5 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages.
In a mid-February recommended ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy found the company had no civil rights to violate, and also that individual city employees could not be sued over the work they did on the city’s behalf.
Victorian Village, approved by the city planning board in 2005 as a 20-building/80-unit condo development, never came to be. One building was constructed in 2007, and then the company apparently ran out of money; more than a dozen contractors who helped build and furnish it were never paid. The project’s private lender ended up foreclosing on the development, and ultimately, the city claimed the entire, 1.3-acre property for non-payment of taxes.
LCD complained actions of the building inspection department — including delayed issue of a building permit and a requirement that a paved road, curbs and utilities be installed first — drove it out of business. It further claimed city officials’ actions were arbitrary and constituted a violation of the company’s right to procedural due process.
McCarthy disagreed, finding that it could have challenged the city’s processes by way of an Article 78 proceeding in state Supreme Court, but did not. The fact that it didn’t means it’s not entitled to further judicial review, he wrote.
The suit was to be dismissed as long as LCD didn’t raise persuasive new arguments for a trial by March 5, according to McCarthy’s proposed ruling.
City Treasurer Michael White said 501 Park Lane Circle will be sold this year. The city’s property management committee, a panel of administrators from various departments, will recommend a sale method and determine whether the building, now classed as a four-unit apartment house, and vacant land should be sold separately.