The Real Deal New York

Tabak and Cayre battle over $22M Williamsburg site

August 12, 2011 06:03PM
By Adam Pincus

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Developer Joseph Cayre and 240-246 Bedford Avenue

Two under-the-radar but well-financed real estate investors, Joe Tabak and Joseph Cayre, are fighting over a valuable Williamsburg development site on Bedford Avenue that each is trying to buy out of bankruptcy for as much as $22 million.

Yesterday, attorneys began to lay out competing plans to purchase the Backer Group’s 240-246 Bedford Avenue, at North 4th Street, in federal bankruptcy court in Brooklyn, but after several hours the hearing was adjourned until Sept. 7, according to a legal source and court records.

The property has development rights for 94,800 square feet, data from PropertyShark.com shows. Earlier this year, retail sources said discount department store Marshalls and drugstore chain CVS were interested in leasing space in the property, once the legal wrangling was resolved.

Midtown Equities founder and principal Cayre, in partnership with retail investor Alex Adjmi and others, filed the most recent plan on Wednesday that offers to buy the assembled site for $22 million. That was a 10 percent jump from an agreement Cayre’s group, CAB Bedford, inked in July 2010, to purchase the property that now includes steel framing and partial exterior walls, for $20 million.

That bump in offering price was made in response to an offer by Tabak, the principal of Princeton Holdings, who filed papers in May 2011 offering $21 million, and in addition he would pay Cayre’s group a $100,000 “rejection” fee if the court allowed Backer to tear up that agreement. Both plans claim to pay off creditors in full.

Tabak, Cayre, Adjmi and Backer and their attorneys either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both potential buyers are top real estate investors. Cayre’s Midtown Equities owns portions of a portfolio of more than 100 properties around the country including the HSBC tower at 452 Fifth Avenue and the World Trade Center, and he co-founded the residential brokerage Core. Tabak is a major property owner as well who had a recent court victory — but not yet a definitive decision — in his effort to buy a 50 percent share of Michael Ring’s portion of the 14-building Ring commercial portfolio in Manhattan.

The bankruptcy case illustrates the difficult process in New York to acquire real estate and the lengths savvy developers will go to in order to win these battles waged through motions and hearings.

The Backer Group, led by Yehuda Backer, sought to develop the Brooklyn property that he has owned since 1997 but failed as the economy stalled. By 2010 he had defaulted on a $5 million loan to lender Capital One. In July 2010 Backer signed an agreement with Cayre’s group to sell for $20 million, but the deal was never finalized. In November 2010, Backer filed for bankruptcy protection because the bank was planning to take control of the property through a deed-in-lieu it held in escrow. The Chapter 11 filing halted that.

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