Eight Buyers Sue 1521

Eight buyers are suing 1521′s developer because they are upset with the entry way to floor plan A. This isn’t a new issue, I’ve blogged about it before. And in fact, I toured the unit recently and wouldn’t have guessed that floor plan A was the problematic one. My advice to these buyers would be to get some art on the walls with some tasteful lighting, and this entry way issue goes away entirely. My advice to developers is to over communicate any changes to plan as soon as possible. Buyers hate surprises, especially on the day they write a check for a million dollars.

The developer claims it built an elite, high-end condominium project. Eight buyers have now sued that developer, saying that their units have entrances that are less than high end, and lower than promised. The buyers filed suit today in King County Superior Court, seeking return of their deposits and damages against Opus, a major northwest developer. Opus is finishing the high-rise condominium project at 1521 Second Avenue in downtown Seattle . The condominiums are “designed exclusively for the confident few,” according to Opus’ literature. The website refers to “unparalleled interiors,” and “generously proportioned” spaces. Prices start at $1 million, and prices for upper units exceed $4 million. The project has 148 units on 38 floors. The buyers allege that Opus and its “development partner,” William Justen, specifically promised 8-foot doors and high ceilings. The entries to the units in question now have 7-foot doors and ceilings as low as seven feet. The complaint alleges that the changes breached the contracts for purchase of the units. It seeks return of deposited funds and unspecified damages. Opus claims that its agreements allow it to make changes to the design of the entry. It has refused to refund any of the buyers’ money. Opus also refused the buyers’ requests to have the problems corrected or to be moved to comparable units with the promised door and ceiling heights. Opus says most of the units in the project are already sold, and that it will not make changes for aesthetic and structural reasons. “When you are paying more than $1 million for a relatively small condominium, the appearance of the front entry is critical,” said Breffni McGeough, one of the purchasers. “Opus prepared marketing literature, a model unit and architect’s plans that all show 8-foot doors.” “Even the contracts that Opus prepared specify 8-foot doors,” said Mark Clausen, the Seattle attorney for the buyers. “When you are paying the prices Opus charges for a condominium, there is no question that the changes to the entry are material changes. The entry heights now are more like a college dorm room than a condominium with a sales price of seven figures.” Clausen said that, under the Agreements, Opus was required to notify the buyers of the changes and give them the opportunity to nix the deals. Opus allegedly did not give that notice to any of the buyers. Opus’ promotional literature does refer specifically to door and ceiling height. William Justen is managing director of the Samis Company, a partner in the venture that built the project. From 1978-85, Justen headed the City’s Department of Construction and Land Use. In marketing the project, Justen prepared a number of “Desknotes,” about the projects features and design. In several of them, Justen specifically call for 8-foot doors and ceilings higher than 9 feet. Closings of the sales of units on the project began last month. The buyers who sued, however, say they will not be completing the purchase of their units because of Opus’ hard line. “Opus has used a very high-handed approach in dealing with us,” said McGeough. “They have not been willing to sit down and discuss a solution. Opus has left us with no choice but to take the matter to court.” Opus has not responded to the complaint.

Mark A. Clausen 701 Fifth Avenue • Suite 7230 Seattle, Washington 98104 OFFICE (206) 223-0335 • DIRECT (206) 340-1550 • FAX (206) 223-0337 E-Mail: mclausen@clausenlawfirm.com

About Matt

Matt , Urbnlivn's publisher, has a love for lofts with industrial features and new construction condos that is only eclipsed by his passion for outdoor sports and urban living. Phrases such as “polished concrete” and “exposed brick” are music to his ears. You can also find Matt on Twitter or skiing.

  • anonymous

    So, according to the post on another blog (http://www.urbanashley.com/2008/12/11/just-in-p…), these are the same buyers who were complaining about the 'A' floorplan. Only 'A' floorplan buyers are complaining about door height? What's the connection?

  • http://deflationland.blogspot.com christiangustafson

    “Whaaaaaaayyy! I bought a 'million-dollar' condo on the eve of the Greater Depression. It's not my fault! I thought RE only goes up! A REALTOR® told me so. Maybe I can sell it when the market bounces back in the 3rd quarter!”

  • http://deflationland.blogspot.com christiangustafson

    “Whaaaaaaayyy! I bought a 'million-dollar' condo on the eve of the Greater Depression. It's not my fault! I thought RE only goes up! A REALTOR® told me so. Maybe I can sell it when the market bounces back in the 3rd quarter!”

  • stone

    Just 'cause this is a “high-end” deal with lots of fundage in, doesn't mean people can't sue or get pissed over unexpected changes. I don't get it. It will be interesting to see what happens. Don't have an opinion on it, but 1521 does look way nicer than 4 seasons, but 4 seasons seems to have extra amenties. I'm still trying to figure how many vps and ps are living there to have an average salary of 750.

    Oh and Matt, having lived in Europe, bidet is almost standard. In America, there seems to be much embarassment about it, but if there it will get used. But its not really a big deal.

  • stone

    Just 'cause this is a “high-end” deal with lots of fundage in, doesn't mean people can't sue or get pissed over unexpected changes. I don't get it. It will be interesting to see what happens. Don't have an opinion on it, but 1521 does look way nicer than 4 seasons, but 4 seasons seems to have extra amenties. I'm still trying to figure how many vps and ps are living there to have an average salary of 750.

    Oh and Matt, having lived in Europe, bidet is almost standard. In America, there seems to be much embarassment about it, but if there it will get used. But its not really a big deal.

  • just another dirty renter

    somebody call the whaaaaaaambulance!

  • just another dirty renter

    somebody call the whaaaaaaambulance!

  • CameronRex

    I was skeptical when I read the original post. But now I read the details, if I signed for a $1 Million + condo (wouldn't that be nice) and I expected 8 foot high doors and 9+ foot high ceilings I'd be upset by this too. A 7' door I could probably live with…pretty standard…but 7' ceilings? That is 2' difference. I think that will be considered substantial in any court of law.

  • CameronRex

    I was skeptical when I read the original post. But now I read the details, if I signed for a $1 Million + condo (wouldn't that be nice) and I expected 8 foot high doors and 9+ foot high ceilings I'd be upset by this too. A 7' door I could probably live with…pretty standard…but 7' ceilings? That is 2' difference. I think that will be considered substantial in any court of law.

  • The MD

    I toured the unit as well, and I must say that I really didn't notice ANY 7' ceilings. I could be wrong, but I typically am sensitive to those kinds of things. I actually thought this particular unit was amazing and had the best master bathroom of any of the five plans.

    If there are indeed 7' ceilings, then I would say the buyers have a right to get their money back, and it would be in Opus' best interest to return their earnest money promptly. No developer can afford bad press in this economy, especially when a building is still closing contracts. If they let it go much longer, this is going to get a lot of bad press and headlines.

    Still, I thought it was an awesome unit.

  • The MD

    I toured the unit as well, and I must say that I really didn't notice ANY 7' ceilings. I could be wrong, but I typically am sensitive to those kinds of things. I actually thought this particular unit was amazing and had the best master bathroom of any of the five plans.

    If there are indeed 7' ceilings, then I would say the buyers have a right to get their money back, and it would be in Opus' best interest to return their earnest money promptly. No developer can afford bad press in this economy, especially when a building is still closing contracts. If they let it go much longer, this is going to get a lot of bad press and headlines.

    Still, I thought it was an awesome unit.

  • CG

    I agree with The MD's analysis. Interesting that others on this site think the aggrieved would-be buyers are simply trying to wiggle out of purchase contracts during an economic downturn. From the buyers' complaint alone, if true, I think the explicit warranties offered by the developer re height of doors and ceilings will indeed cause a court to find for the buyers. That being said, don't forget that 1521 is yet another project by the infamous Weber Thompson firm. They're by far the worst big-name architects in the city. To the extent that the buyers didn't do their due diligence into the firm's reputation doesn't make me have much sympathy for them.

  • CG

    I agree with The MD's analysis. Interesting that others on this site think the aggrieved would-be buyers are simply trying to wiggle out of purchase contracts during an economic downturn. From the buyers' complaint alone, if true, I think the explicit warranties offered by the developer re height of doors and ceilings will indeed cause a court to find for the buyers. That being said, don't forget that 1521 is yet another project by the infamous Weber Thompson firm. They're by far the worst big-name architects in the city. To the extent that the buyers didn't do their due diligence into the firm's reputation doesn't make me have much sympathy for them.

  • jonathan

    It saddens me that some little nobody like CG (carl goodman) can continue to post dubious comments about an architectural firm that has designed a pretty nice residential tower and has been honored by the AIA for their new sustainable office building (beautiful space). I have toured it. My guess is that CG was fired by Weber Thompson and holds a big fat ass grudge. Get on with your life pal.

  • jonathan

    It saddens me that some little nobody like CG (carl goodman) can continue to post dubious comments about an architectural firm that has designed a pretty nice residential tower and has been honored by the AIA for their new sustainable office building (beautiful space). I have toured it. My guess is that CG was fired by Weber Thompson and holds a big fat ass grudge. Get on with your life pal.

  • The MD

    Guys, guys, guys…. LOL Let's keep this civil and back on topic of discussion… That's the law suit that may ensue at 1521. No personal attacks, please.

    A question I have is how does 1521 compare to other buildings in way of value? When compared to three other buildings that come to mind (Four Seasons, Olive 8, Escala)? I'd like a general assessment of the readers and a head-to-head comparison of these buildings revealed on this blog. That would be pretty cool, eh?

  • The MD

    Guys, guys, guys…. LOL Let's keep this civil and back on topic of discussion… That's the law suit that may ensue at 1521. No personal attacks, please.

    A question I have is how does 1521 compare to other buildings in way of value? When compared to three other buildings that come to mind (Four Seasons, Olive 8, Escala)? I'd like a general assessment of the readers and a head-to-head comparison of these buildings revealed on this blog. That would be pretty cool, eh?

  • Reader

    I toured 1521 – it's a nice development but I noticed the rabbit-warren entrance immediately. With 7 ft ceilings it would be even worse. The design of the building unfortunately lends itself to that.

    Is 'Breffni McGeough' named in the article the realtor/investor who is selling all of the properties at Hotel 1000?

    Not sure if I would want to live in a building full of wealthy older folks…sounds like a lawsuit minefield and boring to boot.

  • Reader

    I toured 1521 – it's a nice development but I noticed the rabbit-warren entrance immediately. With 7 ft ceilings it would be even worse. The design of the building unfortunately lends itself to that.

    Is 'Breffni McGeough' named in the article the realtor/investor who is selling all of the properties at Hotel 1000?

    Not sure if I would want to live in a building full of wealthy older folks…sounds like a lawsuit minefield and boring to boot.

  • joshua

    @Reader: Dude, its a scam. Yes, BM is one and the same, probably the most notorious condo flipper in the city. According to my buddies in RE, his MO is to buy a block of units via the “straw man” technique in every good tower. I will bet the family jewels that this “lawsuit” is nothing more than an attempt to try and get out of contracts because his game is up or he cannot get financing. BTW, like Matt, I have seen that unit myself, up close and personal at a GF's new place, and I dont get it. Unit looks good to me and it does not have 7' ceilings in the entry, they are 8'-4' in the entry and 9-6 in the unit itself. The part about the 7' doors is correct, but show me a building in the city that does not have the same? Dude, its a scam and he should be outted.
    @Jonathan: Don't be too hard on CG, he is is a very grumpy old guy that does not like modern architecture, or much of anything modern for that matter ;).

  • joshua

    @Reader: Dude, its a scam. Yes, BM is one and the same, probably the most notorious condo flipper in the city. According to my buddies in RE, his MO is to buy a block of units via the “straw man” technique in every good tower. I will bet the family jewels that this “lawsuit” is nothing more than an attempt to try and get out of contracts because his game is up or he cannot get financing. BTW, like Matt, I have seen that unit myself, up close and personal at a GF's new place, and I dont get it. Unit looks good to me and it does not have 7' ceilings in the entry, they are 8'-4' in the entry and 9-6 in the unit itself. The part about the 7' doors is correct, but show me a building in the city that does not have the same? Dude, its a scam and he should be outted.
    @Jonathan: Don't be too hard on CG, he is is a very grumpy old guy that does not like modern architecture, or much of anything modern for that matter ;).

  • 1521Resident

    I am a resident and owner of an A unit. Here are the facts. The front door is a bit over 84 inches (7 feet) tall. The D and E units also have 7 foot front doors so this is not unique to A units. Apparently the D and E owners are not suing about their front doors so that leaves the interior ceiling height as the only differentiating factor.

    The ceiling height in the first part of the long A-unit entry area is 102 inches high. It drops briefly to 83.5 inches for a total distance of 30.5 inches (2.5 feet) and then returns to 102 inches (8 feet 6 inches) as it turns toward the main living area where the ceiling height is 112 inches (9 feet 4 inches).

    The reason the ceiling drops to approximately 7 feet for 30 inches is that this is where it penetrates through the building's concrete structural core. The heavy duty concrete core is what allows the exterior to have so much glass. Apparently none of the other units extend into the center core so none of the others have this short 'portal.' I suppose the developer could have set the door in the portal but it would have eliminated approximately 50 sq feet from unit A.

    In my opinion, this is a made-up objection to escape a commitment — any buyer paying attention knew about this condition in advance. It is hardly a big deal. At the most, it is a minor decorating challenge.

    The building has residents of all ages (including children), but the average is likely to be in the 50s.

    I hope these comments help.

  • 1521Resident

    I am a resident and owner of an A unit. Here are the facts. The front door is a bit over 84 inches (7 feet) tall. The D and E units also have 7 foot front doors so this is not unique to A units. Apparently the D and E owners are not suing about their front doors so that leaves the interior ceiling height as the only differentiating factor.

    The ceiling height in the first part of the long A-unit entry area is 102 inches high. It drops briefly to 83.5 inches for a total distance of 30.5 inches (2.5 feet) and then returns to 102 inches (8 feet 6 inches) as it turns toward the main living area where the ceiling height is 112 inches (9 feet 4 inches).

    The reason the ceiling drops to approximately 7 feet for 30 inches is that this is where it penetrates through the building's concrete structural core. The heavy duty concrete core is what allows the exterior to have so much glass. Apparently none of the other units extend into the center core so none of the others have this short 'portal.' I suppose the developer could have set the door in the portal but it would have eliminated approximately 50 sq feet from unit A.

    In my opinion, this is a made-up objection to escape a commitment — any buyer paying attention knew about this condition in advance. It is hardly a big deal. At the most, it is a minor decorating challenge.

    The building has residents of all ages (including children), but the average is likely to be in the 50s.

    I hope these comments help.

  • joshua

    ***In my opinion, this is a made-up objection to escape a commitment — any buyer paying attention knew about this condition in advance. It is hardly a big deal. At the most, it is a minor decorating challenge*** —- 1521 Resident***

    Exactly.

    And wait until these bullshit condo flipper guys get all of their LIAR LOAN applications on previous condo purchases reviewed by the banks and the Feds. GAME IS OVER BOYZ.

    And if you would like to have some fun, put in the name of the person that gave the press release to the blogs into your GOOGLE search engine.

    My GF was a prosecuting attorney in another life and she has advised me to leave out all names, so I am not saying anything in particular. Just do your own research and have some fun.

    What goes around comes around, as they say.

  • joshua

    ***In my opinion, this is a made-up objection to escape a commitment — any buyer paying attention knew about this condition in advance. It is hardly a big deal. At the most, it is a minor decorating challenge*** —- 1521 Resident***

    Exactly.

    And wait until these bullshit condo flipper guys get all of their LIAR LOAN applications on previous condo purchases reviewed by the banks and the Feds. GAME IS OVER BOYZ.

    And if you would like to have some fun, put in the name of the person that gave the press release to the blogs into your GOOGLE search engine.

    My GF was a prosecuting attorney in another life and she has advised me to leave out all names, so I am not saying anything in particular. Just do your own research and have some fun.

    What goes around comes around, as they say.

  • The MD

    So, I did a little research of my own. The entry way door is 7' tall and there is only a VERY short-length section of a 7' ceiling height in the unit in question. The rest of the unit is exactly as 1521Resident says. It almost feels like an “archway” of sorts – not a bunker. This is certainly not enough to warrant a lawsuit. Clearly, these are buyers that want out of their contracts as the economy has soured, and they probably need every penny of their earnest money back to make the monthly installments on their rented Bentley Arnage.

  • The MD

    So, I did a little research of my own. The entry way door is 7' tall and there is only a VERY short-length section of a 7' ceiling height in the unit in question. The rest of the unit is exactly as 1521Resident says. It almost feels like an “archway” of sorts – not a bunker. This is certainly not enough to warrant a lawsuit. Clearly, these are buyers that want out of their contracts as the economy has soured, and they probably need every penny of their earnest money back to make the monthly installments on their rented Bentley Arnage.

  • joshua

    ***In my opinion, this is a made-up objection to escape a commitment — any buyer paying attention knew about this condition in advance. It is hardly a big deal. At the most, it is a minor decorating challenge*** —- 1521 Resident***

    Exactly.

    And wait until these bullshit condo flipper guys get all of their LIAR LOAN applications on previous condo purchases reviewed by the banks and the Feds. GAME IS OVER BOYZ.

    And if you would like to have some fun, put in the name of the person that gave the press release to the blogs into your GOOGLE search engine.

    My GF was a prosecuting attorney in another life and she has advised me to leave out all names, so I am not saying anything in particular. Just do your own research and have some fun.

    What goes around comes around, as they say.

  • The MD

    So, I did a little research of my own. The entry way door is 7' tall and there is only a VERY short-length section of a 7' ceiling height in the unit in question. The rest of the unit is exactly as 1521Resident says. It almost feels like an “archway” of sorts – not a bunker. This is certainly not enough to warrant a lawsuit. Clearly, these are buyers that want out of their contracts as the economy has soured, and they probably need every penny of their earnest money back to make the monthly installments on their rented Bentley Arnage.

  • kimQUY

    do u know what happened to the lawsuit? Thanks. Kim

  • mark

    At least your developer got your LEED certification….5th & madison still doesn't have theirs. The HOA board or CWD won't confront the developer on it.