The Real Deal New York

Bridezilla: Vera Wang sues landlord to keep Soho lease

Premier Equities claims fashion brand owes more than $272,000 in back taxes

June 17, 2015 04:47PM
By Kyna Doles and Claire Moses

From left: Vera Wang and 158 Mercer Street

From left: Vera Wang and 158 Mercer Street

A marriage made in heaven it ain’t.

Vera Wang, the designer best known for its lavish bridal line, is accusing its new landlord of trying to push it out of its Soho ready-to-wear store and bring in a higher-paying tenant.

Uzi Ben Abraham and Yaron Jacobi’s Premier Equities bought the retail condo at 158 Mercer Street in Soho for $16 million in February. According to a new lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court Tuesday, Premier allegedly billed the upscale designer more than $272,000 in back taxes. Vera Wang countered that former owner BHM paid the taxes on the store’s $45,920 monthly rent and had been doing so for the past five years.

A spokesperson for the designer couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. Attorneys for both parties were unavailable for comment.

In the suit, Vera Wang claims that the store, which has been in the space since 2007, “had never been billed by its prior landlord for such escalations … the lease does not permit defendant to retroactively bill for all the prior tax years.”

After some back and forth between the attorneys, the designer claimed it didn’t hear anything from the new landlord until Premier allegedly sent the store a notice after Memorial Day stating that Vera Wang had three days to pay the money or have its lease terminated.

“This Notice of Default was sent in such a fashion and at such time as to maximize the likelihood that it would not even be seen by VWG’s executives until after the 3 days expired,” Wang claims in the suit, and adds that Premier’s notice was only received in June.

Wang’s current lease expires on December 31, 2016, but the brand has the option of renewing for another five years.

“Defendant’s true motivation by its conduct is to reclaim the premises and replace plaintiff with a tenant that would pay the going market rent, which would be at least twice the amount presently paid by Vera Wang,” the court documents state.

The average asking rent for retail space in Soho is $977 per square foot, according to the latest REBNY retail report. Vera Wang is paying about $220 per foot.

“Rents in Soho are topping out at around $1,000 per square foot at the highest end,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chair of the retail group at Douglas Elliman. “Given 158 Mercer is a top-of-the-line residential building with celebrity residents … this building should command top rents.”

Jon Bon Jovi closed on the sale of his condo in the building for $34 million earlier this month and Arianna Huffington bought a pad in the building for $8.2 million in 2013.