As Apthorp marketing team changes, sales office left dark

TRD New York /
Oct.October 26, 2010 04:30 PM

Corcoran Sunshine succeeds Elliman’s Dolly Lenz in handling sales at the UWS condo

From left: Dolly Lenz, Lev Leviev, the Apthorp and Kelly Kennedy Mack

It’s been nearly a month since Dolly Lenz, Prudential Douglas Elliman power broker and one of New York real estate’s most polarizing figures, left her exclusive sales role at the Apthorp, but the newly appointed sales team has yet to officially take the helm. Meanwhile, the rental-turned-condominium, where the sponsors’ controversial efforts to sell off multi-million dollar units at the legendary address has become a well-documented saga, has all but dropped off the grid.

Calls to the Apthorp sales office go unanswered. Listings for 390 West End Avenue are still live, but buyers are directed to Lenz, who is now mired in a commission dispute with the building’s management. Her voice mailbox is perpetually full.

Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, led by Kelly Kennedy Mack, has been chosen as Lenz’s successor, but isn’t slated to re-launch sales until Nov. 1.

Last month, in an e-mail addressed to Andrew Ratner of the Feil Organization, Lenz and her team resigned from the sales role they’d held since last July, when they were brought on and charged with the formidable task of helping the 163-unit building cross its required 15 percent-sold mark in a little over a month. They succeeded, and after an extensive investigation by the attorney general’s office, the Apthorp’s offering plan was approved in May.

In the e-mail, Lenz’s team cited unpaid commissions, “a total lack of communication and direction” and “a continuing situation beyond our control” that “is negatively impacting our reputations.” Lenz is said to have sold over $100 million worth of units at the Apthorp.

But the sponsors, led by Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments, tell a different story.

“The marketing and sales team at the Apthorp has been under review for several months,” they wrote, in a statement provided to The Real Deal. “Prudential Douglas Elliman was well aware of this process.” They continued: “Termination of Prudential Douglas Elliman is in process and pursuant to that, they should have updated all sponsor listings as ‘permanently off the market.'” The sponsors declined to comment on the commission dispute, while Lenz did not respond to requests for comment.

Although the sponsors say the sales office never formally closed, during the interim, broker sources have said they don’t know how to set up appointments for prospective buyers, and that the month-long transition period suggests that the sales team change-up wasn’t planned.

“They’re missing the fall marketplace,” one source, who works frequently with new developments, pointed out. “In general, you try not to have a gap… you don’t want to go off people’s radars.”

Last year, lender Anglo Irish Bank agreed to restructure the Apthorp’s debt, not long after the sponsors narrowly averted foreclosure proceedings by one of its mezzanine lenders. But when asked whether the month-long transition would impact the long-term stability of the Apthorp, Garrett Thelander, an executive vice president at lender Anglo Irish Bank, said “we’re not concerned about it,” stressing that the Apthorp is now a performing loan. The termination of Lenz’s sales team, he added, “had been brewing for a while.”

In a statement officially announcing the takeover today, Mack, of Corcoran Sunshine, wrote that her team looks forward to “working closely with the co-brokerage community to successfully sell the remaining residences at the Apthorp.”

According to Streeteasy.com, 22 units at the building have closed thus far, and another 13 are in contract.

It’s not the first time Corcoran Sunshine has taken over from Lenz on a controversial conversion project. She was replaced at the Upper East Side’s landmark Manhattan House early last year, following closely on the heels of similar changeups at the Miraval Living (now known simply as 515 East 72nd Street after its namesake spa dropped out of the project), and the Georgica at 305 East 85th Street.


Additional reporting by Lauren Elkies.

 

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