BellTel ditches Elliman’s Bracha for other Elliman group

By Candace Taylor | June 21, 2010 10:20PM

Belltel Lofts and Elliman’s Ilan Bracha (inset), Michael Ettelson (top), Mordy Werde (bottom)

BellTel Lofts has switched sales teams yet again.

Superbroker Ilan Bracha, who has been marketing the Downtown Brooklyn art deco condominium conversion since 2008, has been replaced by fellow Prudential Douglas Elliman agents Michael Ettelson, Mordy Werde and Nishila Mustafa, who are based in Brooklyn, according to project developer JJ Bistricer.

Bistricer said there are “no hard feelings” between he and Bracha about the switch. “We remain friends with Ilan Bracha,” he said. “We think he’s a wonderful guy and great at what he does.”

Initially, he had hoped Bracha’s team would help bring Manhattan buyers to the project, located at 365 Bridge Street. But over time, he said, he realized that the project needed a Brooklyn-based team of agents, who would be well-versed in the area and have connections with other brokers in the borough.

“In order for it to be successful, it needs people who are local [at this time],” Bistricer said.

Bracha took over sales from Elliman agent and BellTel resident Terry Naini. Elliman’s Maria Mainieri has also sold units in the building.

When Bracha took over, he initiated an aggressive package to lure buyers’ brokers to BellTel. Personal invitations went out to 80 brokers, offering them a free iPod pre-loaded with a video of BellTel.

But the 250-unit project, which began sales in the fall of 2007, is still only 55 percent sold, Bistricer said. “The timing of the market worked against us,” he said.

Built in 1930 as the headquarters of the New York Telephone Company, the landmarked building was renovated by architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle. But BellTel faces stiff competition from a number of other new buildings in up-and-coming Downtown Brooklyn.

Units at BellTel are now going for $550 to $650 per square foot, Bistricer said, a reduction of roughly 15 percent from initial asking prices. Around 35 units in the building have been rented out, he said.

Bracha agreed that the split was amicable.

“We have a lot of new developments, and we have to concentrate on [projects] in Manhattan,” he said. “It’s just a business decision.”

He added: “It’s good for the project to have a Brooklyn element.”