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STAMFORD, CT-A development firm, spurned by International Paper in its attempt to acquire the Treetops property in Greenwich, has filed suit in State Superior Court here charging the company with breach of contract. International Paper announced earlier this month its intent to sell 95 acres of the Treetops property to the Trust for Public Land for $11.5 million so that the land can be preserved as open space.

Brickman Associates, a commercial office building owner with offices in New York City, Detroit and Atlanta, claims in its lawsuit filed on Oct. 24 that International Paper breached an August 30 letter of intent to purchase agreement that detailed the terms and conditions of the sale of the entire Treetops property (approximately 110 acres) for $15 million. Brickman had hoped to develop residential housing on the property.

In addition to its charge of breach of contract, Brickman also alleges in court documents that International Paper did not act in good faith and also violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.Brickman does not want to vacate the announced sales agreement between International Paper and the Trust for Public Land but is seeking unspecified damages and attorney’s fees. A spokesman for International Paper says the company does not comment on pending litigation.Some of Brickman’s notable properties in the area include: 150 East 52nd St. in Manhattan, 3HQ (3 Huntington Quadrangle) in Huntington (Long Island, New York) and 900 King St. in Rye Brook. The firm also owns Northlake Office Park in Atlanta and 150 West Jefferson in Detroit.In its deal announced on Oct. 17 with the Trust for Public Land, International Paper reported that it would sell 95 acres of land known as “The Treetops” property along the Mianus River in Greenwich and Stamford. Not part of the agreement was the the historic 33-room Treetops mansion that is currently being used as a conference center, and some adjacent property. Brickman’s court papers claim that the mansion was to be included in the sale.

According to International Paper’s announcement on the agreement with the Trust, all public and private funding commitments must be in place by Jan. 31, 2001 in order for the acquisition to move forward. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has committed $3.5 million to the purchase, and plans to take title to the property once sufficient matching funds have been raised from other sources.

The town of Greenwich has been asked to purchase a conservation easement over 70 acres for $3.5 million and the city of Stamford has been requested to purchase a conservation easement over 35 acres for $1.5 million. Both municipalities are expected to vote on the project soon. In addition, a coalition of non-profits is launching a $3 million fundraising campaign to save the Treetops property.

In August, International Paper announced it would be relocating its corporate headquarters operations from Purchase, NY to Downtown Stamford later this year. The move to 1 Champion International Plaza, will affect approximately 120 workers.

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