Real Estate Litigation/Municipal Law
Throughout his career, Albert Farrah has assisted clients in a wide variety of matters related to the acquisition, permitting, financing and development of real estate. He has successfully represented developers in actions against abutters, lenders, governmental agencies and competitors, including the matters described below.
Successfully represented the purchaser/developer of land in Boston’s Fenway area against an action by the owner of an abutting apartment building who claimed ownership of a strategic portion of Mr. Farrah’s client’s land by adverse possession. After a six day trial, a Suffolk Superior Court jury determined that despite the fact that the abutter had fenced in and used the land in question for well over twenty years, his use of the land had not been exclusive, and returned a verdict for Mr. Farrah’s client. Levenson v. Zahedi, Suffolk Superior Court.
Represented the owners of over 500,000 square feet of loft space in Boston’s SOWA (South of Washington Street) district – in which dozens of persons were alleged to be living and working as artists – against claims by the Boston Rent Equity Board that it had jurisdiction over these properties, and the power to roll back and then control rents at 1969 levels, and thus force Mr. Farrah’s clients pay tenants and former tenants alleged “rent overcharges” reaching back over 20 years. The potential impact to the landlord was catastrophic, easily in the range of several million dollars. For five years Mr. Farrah defended lawsuits and administrative hearings brought by the Board and individual tenants. A settlement was finally reached. The Board exercised no jurisdiction, the properties were never subject to Rent Control, the clients paid no damages and suffered no losses.
Represented a client who purchased a 40,000 square foot Boston retail/office building despite that another buyer, who had signed an earlier purchase and sale agreement for the property, brought suit against both the seller and Mr. Farrah’s client. Notwithstanding the impediment typically presented by such a lawsuit and the lis pendens issued in the suit, Mr. Farrah advised his client to purchase the property. Had the plaintiff prevailed in the lawsuit, the sale to Mr. Farrah’s client would have been unwound, with significant financial consequences. After Mr. Farrah conducted extensive discovery, including depositions, the would-be buyer dismissed its lawsuit. Paine Furniture v. Charak Realty and Nicosia, Suffolk Superior Court.
Albert Farrah successfully represented the Islamic Society of Boston in a lawsuit seeking to void a land sale by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to the ISB and thus stop the construction of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and Mosque. That suit, brought by a neighbor of the project, claimed the land sale violated constitutional requirements regarding the separation of church and state. Mr. Farrah’s approach was to characterize the case for what it was, not a suit of constitutional dimensions, but rather an appeal of action taken by a city agency that the law required be filed in court shortly after the agency’s decision. Mr. Farrah convinced a Superior Court judge the neighbor had waited far too long to sue and thus secured summary judgment, paving the way for the construction of the Cultural Center to continue. Policastro v. Boston Redevelopment Authority, et al, Suffolk Superior Court.
Albert Farrah represented a real estate developer in a dispute with his partners involving several Boston commercial real estate properties. After 17 days of testimony before a three-lawyer board of arbitrators, the action was settled on terms extremely favorable to his client. Confidentiality agreements prevent any further disclosure of this action or the terms of this settlement.
After Albert Farrah’s client received a variance from the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) allowing construction of over 100 Boston waterfront artists’ live/work spaces, two abutters appealed to Superior Court, an action that can stop or delay development for years. Mr. Farrah secured dismissal of that lawsuit by demonstrating to the judge that the abutters’ service of process (made under c. 40A, the zoning law statewide except in Boston) violated the Boston Zoning Code. Since a lawsuit appealing a variance must be filed within 20 days of the ZBA decision, any subsequent lawsuit would have been time barred, and therefore futile. Mr. Farrah’s client prevailed and is now developing the property. Pizzuti v. Rauseo, et al, Suffolk Superior Court.
Summary judgment was granted in favor of Mr. Farrah’s client in an action brought by landowners in Essex, MA, who claimed restrictions against subdivision of land contained in the deed by which Mr. Farrah’s client acquired title were valid. By demonstrating to a Superior Court judge that notwithstanding deed language prohibiting subdivision, the sellers never intended to impose such restrictions, Mr. Farrah was able to secure summary judgment, thereby permitting his client to subdivide the land. Zide, et al v. McNiff, et al, Essex Superior Court. The decision of the Superior Court was subsequently affirmed by the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
After the Andover, MA Planning Board issued a special permit to Mr. Farrah’s client for the development of the office/warehouse building a group of residents sued. Mr. Farrah deposed each of the residents and then secured summary judgment on behalf of his client by successfully arguing the plaintiffs had no standing to sue since they could not demonstrate the effects of the proposed development upon them were special and different from the effects of that development generally on others in the town. Henry, et al v. Andover Planning Board, et al, Essex Superior Court.
Albert Farrah successfully represented the owner of a 34-acre parcel of land against the Scituate, MA Planning Board, which had rejected the owner’s subdivision plan. After a three day trial the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Land Court, reversed the Planning Board’s decision and ordered it to approve the subdivision. Rte. 3A Scituate Trust v. Town of Scituate, Massachusetts Land Court.