Would-be Belnord heir fights oddball 2006 rental agreement

October 22, 2013 01:53PM

The grandson of a Belnord tenant has renewed his fight to toss out a deal between residents of the Upper West side building and their landlord, Extell Development.

The 2006 agreement insulated them from capital improvements charges, capped their rents and limited relatives’ ability to inherit their apartments. However, the unusual deal, approved by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, raised eyebrows at the time of signing and has drawn questions of whether it was even legal.

Jonathan Vincent, the grandson of a tenant at 255 West 86th Street who signed the agreement, has so far hit a wall with the court, which has rejected his arguments. But he has appealed, the New York Times reported.

The $375 million mortgage on the massive Belnord, purchased by Gary Barnett’s Extell in 1994, was in distress until in early 2012. The building’s J-51 tax abatements, which prohibit the removal of any units from rent regulation, expire in two years, and a massive $10 million refurbishment is currently underway.

Barnett bought the building while he was living in Belgium. “I didn’t really know how bad things could be here with the politics and the litigation,” Barnett told the Times. “I have since found out.” [NYT]Julie Strickland