Elliman canned from Manhattan House

By David Jones | January 28, 2009 05:02PM

O’Connor Capital Partners has ousted Prudential Douglas Elliman as the exclusive broker at Manhattan House, the landmark Upper East Side condominium conversion that has struggled under a debilitating credit crisis, The Real Deal has learned.

Elliman Vice Chairman Dolly Lenz, who supervised the Manhattan House sales team, was officially notified of the decision late Monday, following weeks of negotiations involving frustrated apartment buyers, existing tenants and HSH Nordbank, the senior lender, according to sources.

Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group and O’Connor Capital Partners issued a joint statement confirming that Anne Young, senior managing director of Corcoran Sunshine, will lead on-site sales at Manhattan House, at 200 East 66th Street at Third Avenue.

“We are thrilled to be working together to provide Manhattan House tenants with not only elegant, spacious homes, but also the ultimate lifestyle amenities and service at this historic development,” the statement read.

Elliman has been in charge of Manhattan House sales since October 2007, when developer Jeremiah O’Connor, founder of O’Connor Capital Partners, settled a year-long legal dispute with former partner Richard Kalikow. The two acquired Manhattan House for a record $623 million in 2005, and O’Connor has struggled mightily to convert the building into luxury condominiums.

Sources say that only about 25 percent of the building’s 583 apartments have been sold and only about one-third of those sales have closed, as many buyers have walked away from their deposits amid concerns about the pace of construction at the building, and commercial banks have tightened financing rules on new condo sales.

Analysts say that Elliman was not entirely to blame for the poor sales effort, but that the building was priced well above its market value.

“The overall problem is that you have an environment where towards the tail end of the housing boom people acquired developments at a premium price, and to justify the higher prices they paid you have to sell at a premium price,” said a market analyst, who asked not to be identified.

Streeteasy.com shows that 46 apartment sales have closed at Manhattan House and 33 units are listed at an average $1,607 per square foot.

This is not the only building where Corcoran Sunshine has replaced Elliman.

Corcoran Sunshine took over marketing and sales at Miraval Living at 515 East 72nd Street, as well as at Georgica, at 305 East 85th Street.