The Real Deal New York

Warring partners finally sell long-stalled East Village site

Developers who fought for control of 75 First Avenue now sell it to Colonnade

October 05, 2015 03:10PM
By Rich Bockmann

75 First Avenue

75 First Avenue

Following a bitter internal battle for control of a long-stalled East Village development site, the owners have sold it to the Colonnade Group.

A group of partners including Ozymandius Realty and Orange Management closed last month on the $12.9 million sale of 75 First Avenue.

The sale puts an end to a decade-long effort to develop the property, one in which the other partners claim that Orange’s Andrew Bradfield attempted to wrest control from them.

“He tried to force us to sell to him at a discount,” said Ozymandius principal Anthony “TJ” Marano, who began assembling the site, with 34,000 buildable square feet in 2005. “He wanted to stop us from selling so that he could develop it.”

Bradfield, the son of the former general counsel to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and developer of projects such as 22 Renwick Street in Soho, could not be immediately reached for comment.

City records show that Marano purchased the site for $3.7 million and assembled an adjacent property next door, which gave him the air rights to develop a 14-story building.

But in 2008, the city rezoned more than 100 blocks in the East Village and the Lower East Side, which limited the height of Marano’s approved building to eight stories.

As the developer tried to argue that the city had taken his property rights without proper compensation, lender Chinatrust Bank moved to foreclose on the property, which at that time had an outstanding loan in the amount of $7.5 million.

Marano said he was able to convince the bank that the rezoning was an “act of God.” He then purchased the note at half the price, or $3.75 million, with partners including Bradfield, who took a 25-percent stake.

But convincing a judge that the city should allow the building to go forward as originally approved was a different matter. The site languished as the case dragged on, and the cash started to dry up.

Marano said he convinced his other partners that it was time to sell the site. Except for Garfield, whom Marano said wanted to buy the site with extremely favorable terms “and a bunch of shit we’d never give to anybody who walks in the door.”

The partners went into arbitration over the matter and eventually reached a settlement that resulted in the sale to Colonnade, Marano said. Ozymandius’ past projects include 87 Leonard Street and 50 Bond Street.