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Judge Dismisses Fraud Claims Against Suffolk In Suit Over Failed Back Bay Skyscraper

A rendering of 1000 Boylston St. in Boston.

A judge handed down a small victory in the battle between prominent Boston developers over tens of millions of dollars allegedly lost in a massive failed Back Bay condo project.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger dismissed developer Stephen Weiner’s fraud claims against Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish as Fish moves forward his $100M civil suit against Weiner over the failed $800M 1000 Boylston tower, The Boston Globe reported.

Fish brought the lawsuit in 2019 against Weiner and the LLC he controls, alleging the developer backed out of an agreement to finance the tower Suffolk would build. Weiner hit back last year with counterclaims, alleging Fish falsely promised he would obtain all necessary approvals in a timely manner with acceptable terms.

Salinger dismissed Weiner’s claims in a ruling last week, writing Weiner’s allegations “did not plausibly suggest” Fish made false promises, according to the Globe.

The case between the head of one of the nation's largest contractors and the Boston developer of hotels and shopping centers will move forward, although the next hearing had not been scheduled as of Thursday.

The proposed 108-unit, 27-story condo tower with 45K SF of retail, at the Massachusetts Turnpike air rights parcel MassDOT awarded them in 2013, was approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency in 2018 after neighborhood pushback tempered more ambitious plans. 

Weiner Ventures Managing Partner Adam Weiner, a co-defendant in the lawsuit, had earlier professed confidence in the project, saying at the time in regards to a then-failed Simon Property Group high-rise in Back Bay, “We’re comfortable with the market. They weren’t.”

1000 Boylston was nixed in 2019, when Weiner Ventures said a “combination of factors” led to the cancellation of the project. Fish claims Weiner balked when lenders in 2019 asked the partners to set aside $50M in cash, and as Suffolk was preparing the property, Weiner backed out to the surprise of Fish. Weiner’s statement had reached media without Fish’s input, which Fish called in his suit “an astonishing betrayal of trust” and “maliciously hurtful.” The deal eventually fizzled and MassDOT didn't renew the project’s development rights, costing both partners nearly $90M, the Globe reported.

While 1000 Boylston remains dormant, Samuels & Associates is proceeding with a two-tower project at 1001 Boylston St. and has secured CarGurus as a tenant at its own air rights development, which would be the first successful build over the Mass. Pike since Copley Place.