The Real Deal New York

Time Warner Center moves to foreclose on mogul’s storage unit

Michael Hirtenstein owes five years’ worth of common charges, board claims

June 27, 2012 06:00PM
By Leigh Kamping-Carder

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From left: Michael Hirtenstein (credit: Hamptons Magazine), a listing shot of his TWC unit and the building exterior

Technology titan and nightlife impresario Michael Hirtenstein may have moved out of the Time Warner Center, but the condominium board claims he’s still on the hook for common charges — for an unsold storage unit.

Hirtenstein made a fortune with the sale of his Wall Street technology firm WestCom Corp., and later teamed up with Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum to found EMM Group, a nightlife and events company that operates the Meatpacking District hotspots Tenjune and Abe & Arthur’s.

In 2007, he sold his penthouse at 80 Columbus Circle (the Time Warner Center’s north tower) for $27 million. But the entity that sold that unit, 76B LLC, still owns a storage unit at 25 Columbus Circle (the Time Warner Center’s south tower), according to property records.

Now, the south tower’s condo board claims the entity is five years behind on payments. In a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court on June 22, the board moved to foreclose on the storage space in order to sell it.

The board claims that the entity has failed to pay common charges since June 1, 2007, racking up a whopping $2,895 in back payments and late fees. The board also filed a lien against the storage unit this past December, property records show.

In an email to The Real Deal, Hirtenstein said he still owned the storage unit but was unaware of the $2,500 in outstanding common charges.

“No one from Related ever contacted me,” he said, referring to the developer of the Time Warner Center. “If you know my name in the real estate circles you’ll see that I wouldn’t duck out on $2,500 — certainly not when the storage unit can likely be sold for upwards of $50,000 or maybe more.”

Hirtenstein’s LLC bought the four-bedroom penthouse, No. 76B, as a sponsor unit in 2004, paying $15.7 million, records show.

At the same time, the LLC signed a deal to pay $150 for two storage units — SU-10 and SU-11 — in the south tower, although that deal did not close until October 2006, according to public records.

While one of the storage units, SU-11, continued to change hands along with the penthouse, SU-10 remained in the possession of Hirtenstein’s LLC.

Hirtenstein said he kept the second storage unit “because of a technicality.” Since the units were delivered under separate title, he was able to keep the storage space even after he sold the condo, allowing him to maintain ownership privileges of the common areas, including the health club, swimming pool and outdoor deck, he said.

“I actually think it was one of my more clever deals, especially when no one could understand why I wasn’t agreeing to include [the storage unit] when I sold,” Hirtenstein said.

Indeed, the apartment has had an illustrious roster of residents,starting with rapper Jay-Z, who famously rented the unit from Hirtenstein for $40,000 per month. Hirtenstein sold the penthouse to Todd Wagner, who co-founded of the website Broadcast.com, with Mark Cuban.

Last summer, Wagner sold the unit for $30.6 million, a record-breaking price for the Time Warner Center, in a deal brokered by Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Raphael de Niro. The buyer was rumored to be Malaysian financier Taek Jho Low, who picked up the SU-11 storage unit as part of the sale, property records show.

Bruce Warwick, vice chairman of Related and the secretary of the south tower condo board, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Jeffrey Nogee, an attorney with Borah Goldstein Altschuler Nahins & Goidel, who filed the complaint on behalf of the board, did not respond to a request for comment.

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