WV’s Printing House rentals go condo

Apr.April 12, 2012 12:30 PM

The Printing House, a converted residential property in the West Village, is planning a major relaunch by September as a new ownership group is renovating most of the building’s sponsor-owned rental apartments and will offer them as luxury condominiums, The Real Deal has learned.

After settling months of litigation, the new owners, led by Belvedere Capital and Angelo Gordon & Co., have retained condo turnaround specialist Myles Horn, principal of MJH Birchwood, to oversee a multi-million dollar upgrade of the property and rebooting of sales pending approval of a new amendment to the condo plan from state regulators.

“We are definitely attempting to rebrand the asset,” Horn said.

The relaunch has been stalled following a contentious legal battle involving rival bidder Taconic Investment Partners and the building’s former owners Mountbatten Equities, led by investors Winthrop Chamberlin and Barnet Liberman.

In 1979, Mountbatten originally acquired the former industrial printing house, located at 421 Hudson Street, between Leroy and Clarkson streets, selling about 80 units as condos, and renting out most of the remaining 104 units.

As The Real Deal previously reported, Mountbatten retained Grubb & Ellis to sell the building’s 104 unsold units in 2010. But Taconic, in a $4.4 million lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court filed in April 2011, claimed that it had a deal to buy the apartments for $77.25 million, but that Mountbatten reneged on the deal and was only using Taconic as a “stalking horse” to find a rival bidder.

The two sides settled the case this January, clearing the way for Belvedere and Angelo Gordon to buy the unsold units for $67.6 million, according to Propertyshark.com records. Horn confirmed that MJH is also part of the ownership group.

Horn said that construction is scheduled to begin by tomorrow week to renovate the building, in which 95 residential apartments will be upgraded and many of those units will be combined. The building is currently comprised of one- and two-bedroom apartments, and the renovation will create a building with larger units, ranging from two to four-bedroom apartments.

The renovation will initially see upgrades to the lobby, elevators, third-floor vestibule, hallway and apartments, with additional renovations planned for the future.

Horn could not comment about specific prices since the amendment to the condo offering plan is being reviewed by the state attorney general’s office, but noted that pricing would be substantially above the previous offerings at the building.

Streeteasy.com records show 37 apartments with asking $1,310 per square foot. Horn said about 80 units have closed. Rentals in the building start at $3,800 for a 720 square foot one-bedroom apartment, according to Streeteasy.com, but Horn said the new owners are taking all of the unsold apartments off the rental market.

Buyers at the building will get a one-year membership at Equinox, a fitness center chain owned by Related Co., which operates an onsite location there.

Horn said public access to the Equinox will be somewhat limited as the chain’s club pass, which allows access to any of its facilities, will not apply to the Printing House fitness center. A pool and roof deck are also planned at the Printing House.

The prior owners have retained the building’s commercial units, which are located in the basement.

Tricia Cole, executive managing director of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, is currently advising the building on its sales and marketing strategy, however an on-site team within Corcoran has not been named to run the sales office, Horn said.

A spokesperson for the AG said they “cannot comment on matters before the office.” Cole is out of the office this week and was not available for comment. Belvedere officials were also not available. Anglo Gordon officials were not immediately available for comment.

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