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Cushman & Wakefield Exec Sues Strokes Bassist Over Garden
A Cushman & Wakefield executive sued the Strokes’ Nikolai Fraiture over rights to a garden behind the bassist’s Hudson Square co-op.
Meet me in the courtroom: Strokes’ bassist sued in co-op disputeCushman & Wakefield exec battles Nikolai Fraiture over garden access
In the vernacular of Spinal Tap, the legal battle between a real estate power couple and a founding member of indie rock band The Strokes just went to 11.
The rift dates back to 2021, when Strokes’ bassist Nikolai Fraiture accused his Hudson Square co-op board at 44 King Street of playing favorites with the couple, who live next door.
Toby Dodd, Cushman & Wakefield’s tri-state president, and Julie dePontbriand, then a WeWork vice president, had failed to repair openings in their first-floor Hudson Square co-op at 42 King Street, the musician claimed in a lawsuit.
The openings connect the power couple’s co-op to a small rear unit on the first floor of 44 King and a coveted garden, both of which they also own.
Fraiture and wife Illona had bought 44 King’s first-floor front unit and basement apartment in 2019 with plans of combining them. But the openings — a code violation — made any renovations dangerous and blocked the Fraitures from performing the work or moving in, their suit alleged.
The Fraitures blamed their co-op board, claiming that because Dodd was its vice president, the board turned a blind eye to the wall problem.
Last May, a judge ordered the board to ensure that the openings were sealed. The suit is ongoing; the Fraitures claim discovery is needed to calculate the damages they are due.
Now, Dodd and dePontbriand, an executive at proptech firm EasyKnock, have struck back with their own lawsuit.
They claim the Fraitures have blocked at least eight plans submitted to the 44 King board to remedy the fire code violations caused by the openings. (A condition of the Dodds’ co-op purchase required them to close the openings to 44 King Street.)
To remedy the issue, the Dodds suggested selling their rear unit at 44 King to the Fraitures — if they could retain ownership of the garden. That was not music to the Fraitures’ ears.
Still, the Dodds got the 42 King board’s approval to brick up the openings from their side of the wall, and did so in October.
But the conditions of their home purchase also require the Dodds to replace two windows in the rear unit at 44 King. The Dodds claim the Fraitures are blocking that work, which would be on the Fraitures’ side of the wall.
The sticking point, the Dodds claim, is garden access.
“The Fraitures’ motivation is simple: the Dodds have exclusive rights over the building’s garden and the Fraitures want it for themselves,” the suit reads.
Unless the court steps in, the Dodds claim, the Fraitures will “undoubtedly terminate the Dodds’ proprietary lease for their own personal gain.” (The lease is what allows co-op shareholders to occupy a particular unit.) The Dodds expected the board to issue a termination notice Monday that will eventually allow it to evict them, the suit alleges.
To stay in their home, the Dodds have asked the court to rule they are not in default and to block the board from terminating their lease.
Rosenberg & Estis’ Bradley Silverbush, who is representing the Fraitures in the 2021 suit, called the Dodds’ lawsuit retaliatory.
“The Fraitures are shocked and appalled at the numerous misleading and false allegations that have been made,” Silverbush said. “We believe that the court got it right in the first case when it granted an order to compel the Dodds to close up the illegal openings between 42 and 44 King Street.”
The Dodds’ attorney did not respond to a request for comment.