NEW YORK -- Builder Donald Trump Monday sued his former architect and the owner of a proposed condominium near his Trump Plaza claiming they copied the design of his building and 'appropriated' his reputation.
Trump obtained a show cause order in state Supreme Court in Manhattan blocking construction of The Savoy on Third Avenue between 60th and 61st Street. The suit also seeks $60 million in damages.
The 42-story Savoy, still under initial phases of construction, is diagonally across Third Avenue from Trump's 36-story cooperative Trump Plaza. The two buildings are similar in design and their proximity would serve as a 'gateway to the Upper East Side,' according to publicists for the Savoy.
Trump claims builder Morton Olshan and architect Philip Birnbaum copied the design of Trump Plaza. Birnbaum was the architect for Trump Plaza, but Trump claims in legal papers that he contributed significant elements to the design, including lavish use of marble, a limestone facade, bronze tinted windows and two floors of retail stores.
Court papers claim those elements are included in The Savoy, and that it has 'the same basic structure' as the Plaza.
He has charged Birnbaum and Olshan with breach of contract, unfair competition and Olshan with 'trading on the reputation, skill and knowledge that Trump' has gained through his development of Trump Plaza, Trump Towers and the on-going conversion of the old Biltmore Hotel.
Trump said he realized that 'a virturally identical building' was going up near his own on March 22 when the Olshan project put up a picture of the proposed structure on the construction site.
Since then, people who have bought apartments in Trump Plaza or who are considering doing so, have had second thoughts because they 'believed they were buying a uniquely designed building identified with Trump,' Trump claimed in court papers.
Justice Jawn Sandifer ordered Olshan and Birnbaum into court May 7 to argue why the Savoy should be allowed to be built.