One Down, One to Go for Ritz-Carlton Residences Legal Disputes

by Peter Thomas Ricci


Prism Development, the developer of the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Michigan Avenue, has prevailed in the first of two lawsuits regarding the troubled luxury building.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge has sided with Prism Development, the Chicago-based developer behind the embattled Ritz-Carlton Residences on North Michigan Avenue, in a legal squabble with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago that clears up one of two litigation battles plaguing the luxury building.

Judge Kathleen Pantle awarded Prism with a $36.4 million judgement, according to Crain’s, for delays to the Ritz-Carlton Residences that it says the water district was responsible for.

The Most Expensive Alleyway in Chicago?

The details of the Prism/water district lawsuit, as Crain’s reported, stem back from 2006:

  • When the Ritz-Carlton Residences was originally being constructed, Prism needed access to an alley that separates the location of the Ritz-Carlton Residences (664 N. Michigan Ave.) and the water district’s headquarters to the west (100 E. Erie St.).
  • However, the water district refused to allow Prism access, locking the gate to the alleyway and delaying construction – even though Prism had an easement to use the alley.
  • The water district struck first, suing Prism in 2006, but Prism filed a countersuit in July 2008, and the trial from that latter suit had lasted from August 2009 to February 2011; Prism had originally sought $66.5 million in damages.
  • Prism will have to delay its victory lap, though, because the water district has already indicated plans to appeal the decision.

Trouble in Paradise for Ritz-Carlton Residences

The Prism/water district lawsuit, though, is just one of the major legal battles delaying the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Residences. As we’ve reported before, Prism is also engaged in a bitter legal dispute with the Terra Foundation, which owns the land upon which the Ritz-Carlton Residences is constructed, regarding details of the commercial and office tenants using the space; as the dispute drags on, Prism has prohibited the construction workers for those commercial units from entering the premises, further delaying the building’s launch. So delayed has that launch been, in fact, that buyers of the building’s condos have begun suing to get their deposits back.

It’s an altogether unfortunate situation, further compounded by the fact that luxury real estate in Chicago showed impressive signs of life in 2012; according to a separate Crain’s report, sales of high-end homes in Chicagoland (priced $1 million or more) increased 14.7 percent from 2011 to 2012.

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