Today’s Special: Dumpling House Fights Landlord Over ‘Suspicious’ Sidewalk Scaffolding

Sticky Situation. (Spring38.com)

Sticky situation. (Spring38.com)

This dumpling shop’s owner is steaming mad.

Mark Yuan, the owner of the new Midtown West dumpling house Spring, says that unnecessary scaffolding has cast a shadow over his grand opening and cost him unknown thousands in lost business.

He’s suing the owners of 36 West 38th Street for “using all resources at their disposal to hamper our business and scare us into leaving the Premises,” according to court documents obtained by The Observer.

Mr. Yuan signed a 10-year lease in the summer of 2011 while the building was under different management. He and his wife both quit their office jobs an invested their life savings in the storefront, according to DNAinfo, anxious to bring their dream to life.

When A.M. Property Holding purchased the building, the new landlords offered the Yuans $400,000 to break their lease. Mr. Yuan turned them down, and shortly thereafter the scaffolding went up.

The scaffolding, complete with black construction netting, sprung up just as the restaurant was supposed to open in August of 2012, effectively delaying the restaurant’s great reveal until November.

Unhappy with the construction shed obscuring his restaurant, Mr. Yuan filed a suit in September against his landlords, A.M. Property Holding, seeking $1.5 million in damages as well the dismantling of this abstract piece of architecture.

(spring38.com)

(spring38.com)

Mr. Yuan’s lawyer, Jay Itkowitz, spoke to The Observer on behalf of his client. He deemed this situation an act of “blatant extortion intended to force Mark off of the premises.”

Since the shed’s installment over the summer, there has been “not one minute of work,” Mr. Itkowitz said.

“This sidewalk shed is obviously designed to obscure the location so as to discourage customers from visiting the restaurant,” Mr. Itkowitz said in the complaint. “It was erected with no apparent legitimate purpose in connection with no building permit for work to be done at the premises.”

He added that the prior owner made repairs to the building’s façade between November 2011 and May 2012, calling into question the true nature of the construction.

“There is no purpose of the sidewalk shed other than to maliciously harass and exert pressure on our client,” he said.

The court decided in October that the black netting should be removed, but did not demand the scaffolding be disassembled. The building’s attorneys argued elements of the building’s façade might collapse on unsuspecting New York City pedestrians, but Mr. Itkowitz said his experts referred to this as an unrealistic condition.

A.M. Property Holding declined to comment when The Observer reached out.

According to a Yelp review written as recently as January 9, the restaurant was “covered by outside construction.” Still, the same reviewer deemed it to be “definitely worth a visit.”

One from December 18 read: “So I work on this block and because of construction going on this block I didn’t notice this shop till last week.”

But authentic dumpling fans can sleep peacefully tonight with the knowledge that Spring is, in fact, open for business, and that Mr. Yuan doesn’t intend to give up his dream anytime soon.