Maurice Mann loses battle for piece of the Apthorp

By David Jones | August 09, 2013 02:15PM

Maurice Mann, one of the original developers of the Apthorp on the Upper West Side, has lost a bid to buy an apartment at the landmark condominium conversion, despite claims that his partners set aside the $4.6 million unit for him.

Mann sued his former co-developers — billionaire Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel USA and Broadwall Management, a unit of the Feil Organization — in 2011, alleging they breached a deal to sell him a unit that he had occupied since November 2008. A series of promises for other units also fell through, effectively blocking Mann from buying in the building, he claimed.

However, New York State Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh ruled Monday that Mann did not provide enough evidence to prove that his partners knowingly made false statements to thwart the transactions.

“The alleged pattern of delay that [Mann] outlines in his papers does not amount to a misrepresentation or material omission of fact which was false and known to be false by defendant,” Justice Singh wrote in an 11-page decision.

Man said he intends to appeal the ruling. Officials from the Apthorp were immediately available for comment.

Attorney Charles Michael, representing the defendants, said his clients were pleased with the decision. “The judge made the right decision based on the law and the facts,” he told The Real Deal.

Mann and Leviev bought the 163-unit landmark rental building at 390 West End Avenue in 2007 for $623 million, then a record price for a single residential building in New York City.

But the 2008 market crash and serious questions about construction practices and pricing led to a major fallout between the two parties. Leviev’s group later ousted Mann as lead developer after a foreclosure threat from lenders.

Still, Mann and his partners reached an agreement in 2009 for him to purchase Unit 2C. Later, however, they told Mann they would need that unit for general inventory, and instead offered him Unit 6A. Subsequently, the developers said they would need that unit for a model apartment and promised him Unit 10A, pending the New York Attorney General’s approval of the condo offering plan.

The 4,300-square-foot, four-bedroom Unit 2C hit the market in 2010 for $12 million, listed with Dolly Lenz, formerly of Douglas Elliman, then was relisted with the Corcoran Group for $9.95 million in December, according to StreetEasy. The apartment went into contract in April.

Africa Israel did not fare much better with the Apthorp than Mann. The developer was forced out after Anglo Irish Bank, the collapsed lender, sold the senior mortgage loan to Dallas-based Lone Star Funds.

Last fall, Mann told The Real Deal that he was living at the Laureate at 2150 Broadway.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered the senior directors of the board, including Broadwell’s Andrew Ratner, to resign in 2012 after The Real Deal uncovered that their claim that the mortgage sale would have no impact on the building was false.

The developers sued Anglo Irish Bank, alleging that the mortgage sale would jeopardize the viability of the conversion, a direct contradiction of sworn statements made to the AG. Officials from mezzanine lender Area Property Partners took over the board.