6-Feb-19 Nearly two years after a proposed hotel/condominium was not given city approval to proceed, an attorney for a group of 90 Chinese investors has filed a motion in United States District Court to compel the developer to disclose the location of $49.5 million of the investors money.
Doug Litowitz (left) of Deerfield, Illinois, is also asking a federal judge to freeze the assets of Symmetry Property Development, LLC. The New York-based company wanted to build a 42-story mixed-use structure at 42-46 East Superior Street, with a 200-unit hotel, 154 residential units, and 225-seat Gibsons restaurant.
The project, however, was rejected in April 2017 by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, who was concerned about its impact on traffic.
Each of the 60 investors contributed at least $550,000, hoping to secure an American visa through a federal program known as the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
Their federal class action lawsuit filed on November 28, 2018, in United States District Court alleges securities fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Annabelle Yao, a Chinese citizen, is suing on behalf of herself and the other investors, all of whom reside in China and collectively invested $49.5 million in the project, money they now say they cannot get back. Seven defendants are named in the suit, including Symmetry Property Development and its managing partner, Jeffrey Laytin.
The tower would have replaced a trio of picturesque 19th century rowhouses that may still be demolished. Heneghan Wrecking & Excavating filed an application to demolish the buildings, but architectural preservationists won a 90-day demolition delay that will expire on March 9.
(Above) 42, 44, and 46 East Superior Street, location of Sunny Side Up and other businesses. Part of a 12-building neighborhood built in the 1870s and 1880s by the McCormick family. The building at left is officially known as The George A. Tripp House. (Click on image to view larger version.)
Lawsuit against Litowitz alleges fraud and defamation
A lawsuit filed last October in New York state court accuses Litowitz, Chicago real estate developer Zoe Ma, and a consulting firm in Hong Kong of making false statements about an EB-5 center to a different group of Chinese investors.
U.S. Immigration Fund, LLC, which acts as an intermediary between the U.S. government and foreign investors, says the defendants convinced the investors to withdraw their money from a mixed-use project in New Yorks Times Square.
They are seeking up to $23 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Litowitz disputes the claims, saying the complaint is intended solely to harass and annoy.