Toshi to buy the Flatiron Hotel?

By David Jones | July 14, 2011 06:33PM

Flatiron Hotel (source: PropertyShark) and Robert “Toshi” Chan

Hotel Toshi, the transient hotel network led by actor
Robert “Toshi” Chan, is close to an agreement to buy the
Flatiron Hotel, The Real Deal has learned.

The troubled 64-room property, at 1141 Broadway and 26th
Street, has been on the market for more than three months
through a Manhattan-based real estate firm called Berkeley

“We’re bidding on a number of properties around the city,”
a Hotel Toshi spokesperson said. “We’ve made an offer
there, but it hasn’t gone through [yet].”

Toshi has pulled ahead of a number of other investors
eying the property, but sources said there is an issue
regarding obtaining a clear title.

Terms of the negotiations were not disclosed.

The talks are part of a plan by Hotel Toshi to acquire hotels throughout the city, since a crackdown on transient hotel properties — those offering stays of less than 30 days — has put the company under a microscope.  

Toshi has been on the most prolific operators of transient hotels in New York, renting out apartments in about a dozen building across the city for up to $300 a night. The firm has been linked to illegal hotels operating at 203 East 14th Street and 325 East 10th Street in Manhattan, among other buildings.  

The Flatiron Hotel was originally scheduled to open in 2009 under the management of Meyer Jabara, but stalled amid a series of stop work orders and other construction-related problems.

Several contractors, including architect Richard Alan Daley, filed suit against the hotel’s current owners, 1141 Realty, but lawyers for the owners made multi-million dollar counterclaims alleging that the work, which began in 2007, was “shoddy and defective” and that the contractors failed to complete the work within the allotted time frame.

According to court records, a state Supreme Court judge issued a $2.7 million judgment against investor Ibrahim Saleh, who led the Flatiron Hotel project. Court records show that Saleh has fled the New York area, and maybe even the U.S.

The contractor, Born to Build, had filed suit against Saleh for non-payment in connection with three projects, including the construction of the Flatiron Hotel, the construction of a three-story building at 30-63 Steinway Street in Astoria and 38-16 220th Street in Bayside, Queens.

Court records show the contractor had additional claims against Saleh, including unauthorized wire transfers of $1.4 million from a Banco Popular bank branch in California.

There is an outstanding warrant for Saleh’s arrest on separate charges, the documents show.

Saleh could not be reached for comment. Eli Braha, managing member of Berkley Acquisitions, declined to comment.