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How a lone tenant holds up a $70 million condo deal


The condo market is booming, a potential boon for holdouts like Mr. Ozsu. Manhattan saw the most apartment sales of any first quarter in 33 years, with new development sales nearly twice as high as the same time last year, according to a recent report from the brokerage. Douglas Eliman.

Similar terms have led to a small number of mind-boggling settlements for recalcitrant tenants. In 2005, Herbert Sukenik, a longtime resident of the Mayflower Hotel, passing through the luxury tower block 15 Central Park West, negotiated a $17 million buyout, plus the right to live in a nearby two-bedroom apartment overlooking the park for $1 a month. His lawyer, David Rozenholc, who specializes in cases of recalcitrant tenants, received a third of the settlement.

“I’ve already settled three cases this year, which is a fast pace,” Rozenholc said, noting that the pandemic hasn’t stopped developers from pursuing ambitious projects.

Developers sometimes accept large payments from tenants because they can be cheaper than postponing construction, said Steven Kirkpatrick, a partner at Romer Debbas, which primarily represents landlords but is not involved in the West 84th Street case. .

“The theme of this is delay, delay, delay,” he said, noting that prolonged petitions and court proceedings could see Mr. Ozsu stay in the apartment for one or two years.

Mr. Scharf, a lawyer for the developer, said Mr. Ozsu was simply biding his time. In an affidavit filed in Housing Court in April, a member of the landlord’s legal team said he heard Mr Bailey bet he could keep his client in the flat for five years. (Mr Bailey said such testimony “is a lie” – and is not playing.)

“Through a lawyer, he made it clear he was expecting a ransom of at least $1 million,” Scharf said.

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