City Winery files lawsuit against Trinity Church following $650M deal with Disney

February 28, 2019

The Walt Disney Company announced last July it would move its offices from the Upper West Side to Hudson Square after buying the rights to develop a property owned by Trinity Church. For $650 million, Disney plans to develop 4 Hudson Square, which currently contains four buildings. One of those buildings was occupied by City Winery, an entertainment space whose flagship has been located at 143 Varick Street for over ten years. Now after being forced to relocate because of the deal with Disney, the venue’s owner, Michael Dorf, is filing a lawsuit against its landlord Trinity Church seeking over $2 million in damages for “misleading” information.

According to the lawsuit, filed last month in New York Supreme Court, Trinity Real Estate encouraged the business to renovate the second floor and roof of the building to increase the value to potential developers. City Winery agreed to update and lease the space, on the condition that the business could be able to recover its investment through a rent abatement. City Winery said it spent roughly $2.3 million of its own funds for this project.

The lawsuit states that Trinity Church offered an extension of City Winery’s lease by five years, to give the business time to recover costs. But as construction was well underway, Dorf was informed by Trinity that it was negotiating the sale of the building and that it was set to be demolished by the new owner, according to the suit.

“Trinity Church has done nothing to show good faith and common decency in their business practices, which is shocking based on their reputation,” Dorf told 6sqft in an email.

City Winery said it discussed looking for a different Trinity property, but the church “ceased communicating” with the business despite attempts from Dorf. The lawsuit seeks $2.5 million in damages, plus the cost of attorneys’ fees.

Tiani Jones, a spokesperson for Trinity Church, told amNY that “the lawsuit is entirely without merit.” City Winery expects to close its Varick Street location on July 31.


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