The Real Deal Los Angeles

Town’s Andrew Heiberger looks to reassure his brokers

Co-owner Joseph Sitt has been blamed for starving brokerage of financial resources; firm accused of defaulting on another lease

May 31, 2016 01:00PM
By Katherine Clarke

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From left: Andrew Heiberger and Wendy Maitland

From left: Andrew Heiberger and Wendy Maitland

From the New York site: Town Residential founder and CEO Andrew Heiberger called the situation which led to a lawsuit against the brokerage by former president of sales Wendy Maitland “very unnecessary and unfortunate.”

In a company-wide email Wednesday, Heiberger said that for several weeks, he’d been “working in front and behind the scenes to broker peace” between Maitland and Joseph Sitt, Town’s co-chair and capital partner.

“My efforts, for the time being, have failed,” Heiberger wrote. “I remain hopeful that cooler heads prevail between the parties through their attorneys.”

Maitland sued last week, accusing Sitt, head of Thor Equities, of deliberately starving Town of funds and failing to pay rent for the company’s office spaces. Sitt’s actions, she said, hurt the brokerage’s business and diluted the firm’s value.

In his email, Heiberger described Maitland as “a pillar of strength and integrity for the company since its inception.” He added he would “personally work with all parties to see if this damage can be repaired.”

He also addressed the company’s prospective merger with Los Angeles-based brokerage the Agency.

“Joe Sitt and myself feel that a merger of our organizations could be very exciting and mutually beneficial and lucrative,” he said. “We both are working feverishly to explore its potential.”

Joe Sitt

Joe Sitt

Meanwhile, Sitt has allegedly failed to pay rent on some of the company’s sales offices.

A letter sent by the landlord of the company’s 25 West 39th Street office last month claims the firm owes close to $300,000 in unpaid rent on its space there. While Thor actually owns the building, the landlord in this case is Evite, headed by Paul Pucino, which leased the space from a Thor-owned management company and then subleased it to Town.

“The issue on this former location has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties,” a Town spokesperson said. But, in a statement provided to another news outlet last week, an attorney for Town denied having missed rent payments on the offices.

Pucino did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, Heiberger told The Real Deal he’s confident in the future of Town.

“I feel badly because Town is doing really well and it seems like we are mixed up in some of Joe’s and Thor’s problems, as hard as that is to believe,” he said.

The unpaid rent claims aren’t the first brought against Town in recent months. In April, a unit of Virginia-based Belvedere Management filed a lawsuit in housing court against the firm, claiming it hadn’t paid rent for the first three months of the year.

Rival firms have already started approaching Town brokers. Michael Signet, who manages Douglas Elliman’s office at 774 Broadway, sent a recruitment email to a number of Town brokers last week, referencing “recent happenings” at the firm.