Rings’ management of portfolio a “mystery” to brokers

Extell is suing to force sale of the lucrative buildings after buying a stake in the collection in June
October 07, 2013 08:59AM

UPDATED, 11:25 a.m., Oct. 7: Brothers Frank and Michael Ring inherited 15 buildings in prime Manhattan locations, largely in and around the Flatiron District. But the majority of this potentially highly lucrative real estate sits vacant, due to protracted clashes between the brothers, who sold an interest in the portfolio to Extell in June. Now, Extell is suing to force a sale of the portfolio, some of which will be put up for auction this week.

When Leo Ring died in 1998, his son Frank became the manager of his real estate portfolio, but both brothers inherited a 50 percent stake in it. Frank’s management firm is located at 212 Fifth Avenue, a 21-story tower which is mostly unoccupied despite its location overlooking Madison Square Park.

And a 12-story office building at 157 West 23rd Street has been vacant for three decades, according to a Department of Buildings complaint seen by the New York Post. Brookfield Financial’s Eric Anton told the newspaper that the Rings could earn up to $60 per square foot – or about $4 million per year — if they renovated the 68,000-square-foot property.

“It’s really a mystery to most of the broker community,” a broker active in Midtown told the Post of the Rings’ approach. “I always knew not to reach out to them. I knew it was a waste of time.”

Michael tried to sell his 50 percent stake in the portfolio to investor Joseph Tabak for $112 million in 2011, but then reneged on the decision and tried to back out, according to the Post. An arbitrator ruled in Tabak’s favor the following year, according to the newspaper. At the time, Tabak had only put down a $10 million deposit, according to the Post.

Michael declined to comment, telling the newspaper that “my time is worth $5,000 an hour. If you don’t have it, I’m not going to talk.” The Post could not reach Frank for comment.

Gary Barnett’s Extell Development then paid Tabak $74 million for the stake. Barnett sued Frank Ring to force him to sell his stake as well, arguing that the landlord’s neglect was keeping the building from turning a profit.

The widely-anticipated auction of 251 Park Avenue South, owned by F.M. Ring and Extell, will be held later this week. [NYP]  – Hiten Samtani