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Judge Slams Seaport Bridal Venue Landlord for Dragging Its Feet on Repairs

By Irene Plagianos | January 31, 2013 8:50am

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A judge slammed the landlord of a South Street Seaport catering hall that has remained shuttered since Hurricane Sandy, leaving dozens of would-be married couples in the lurch, echoing the sentiment of many frustrated brides and grooms.

“Give me a break and get it done,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten railed at developer Howard Hughes Corporation during a Wednesday court hearing, in which she criticized the company's slow-moving repairs to the Fulton Street building that houses popular bridal venue Bridgewaters.

Bransten said she couldn't understand why it has taken Hughes nearly three months to get the building up and running, but also said Bridgewaters should have been taking more action to push the landlord for the fixes.

But the judge stopped short of granting Bridgewaters the preliminary injunction it had been hoping for that would have forced the Hughes Corporation to allow the catering hall to reopen. Instead, she ordered each side back in court on Feb. 11, demanding to see what each has done to reopen the venue.

Brides and grooms have been fuming over the delays in reopening Bridgewaters while it hashes out a bitter battle with the landlord over when — or if — it will be able to get back to business.

Many brides have told DNAinfo.com New York their fear their upcoming weddings will not be able to take place — adding that they feel the venue has kept them in the dark about the litigation, and led them astray as to when the venue will be able to reopen.

Bridgewaters sued the Hughes Corporation in December, claiming the company is purposefully keeping them closed and ruining their business, despite minimal damage to the building.

In court Wednesdsay, Bridgewater's lawyer, Mark Rottenberg, said Hughes is "using the damage as an excuse to choke us out of business."

Without a reopening date to give clients, Rottenberg said the business "will not survive much longer."

As detailed in his client's suit, Rottenberg said that Hughes is trying to kick Bridgewaters out because of its below-market lease before Hughes undertakes a massive redevelopment of the Seaport, which is slated to start in the summer.

Aside from non-working elevators, Bridgewaters claims its third-floor venue is ready to open. But there has been "radio silence" from Hughes about a timeline for repairs for the Fulton Market Building, the lawyer said. 

Some brides, however, believe that Bridgewaters representative had given them estimates of February or April reopening dates, while never mentioning the heated and indefinite fight with the landlord.

Hughes claims the building damage is more extensive to the other floors of the Fulton Market building, and that it's been dealing with insurance companies to lock down the appropriate course of action for repairs.

But the judge said, no matter what the damage, this has gone on too long.

"You've wasted two months," the judge said. "I want to know how soon and exactly what you will do to get it open."

The battling companies are also squabbling over another major issue that could keep Bridgewaters shut down — rent payments. Hughes is currently suing Bridgewaters for more than $300,000 in back pay at landlord-tenant court.

Hughes and Bridgewaters, which denies that it owes any cash, will meet again in landlord-tenant court on Friday.