Disgraced GOP leader sells Meatpacking parcel

By Adam Pincus | July 24, 2008 12:23PM

A former Manhattan Republican party leader who pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion sold a one-story building in the Meatpacking District to event planner and developer Robert Isabell for $40 million.

The seller of 837 Washington Street, James Ortenzio, was the chairman of the Manhattan Republican Party in 2004 when the real estate partnership Fisher Brothers paid him $100,000 for consulting services. Ortenzio did not report the payment, as he was obligated to do. He was also convicted of violating the public officers’ law.

Ortenzio, who retired as party chairman in 2006, ran a business as a wholesale meat supplier to companies such as Cipriani restaurants.

The building is in the same block as an 80,000-square foot office building that Isabell is developing, about 120 feet to the east at 13-15 Little West 12th Street.

The sale of the 10,335-square-foot lot in the Gansevoort Market Historic District went into contract in February and was closed on July 16, according to city records published today.

The one-story structure was built in the 1930s for meatpackers, and one tenant on a month-to-month lease in the building is still using its space for that use, Isabell said. The structure would not be demolished.

“We are restoring it and doing a rooftop addition,” he said. “For the upper floor we are contemplating many things. Maybe a photo studio or an exhibition space.”

The Whitney Museum of Art is developing a museum a block from the site, at West and Gansevoort streets.

Isabell’s plans to develop a “green” building with a roof-top addition are under review with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Once the building is rehabilitated, Isabell expects to have retail on the ground floor and art or fashion tenants above. He would not reveal how many stories his plans called for.