UPDATED: Aug. 27, 5:32 p.m.: Upper East Side retailer Elliot Rabin is facing another lawsuit over his much-desired retail space at 150 East 72nd Street.
Landlord Aby Rosen’s RFR Holdings filed a lawsuit accusing Rabin, the owner of clothing boutique Peter Elliot Blue, of failing to pay $118,000 in rent for the months of April and May. In May, RFR told Rabin he was in rent default, but the bill remains unsettled, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 25.
According to the suit, RFR is seeking $1.3 million – an amount RFR claims it can collect in the event of a rent default.
Last year, Rabin — whose store was described by the New York Times as an “Upper East Side temple of navy blazers and sherbert-colored sweaters” — was slammed with another suit by former landlord Harry Macklowe’s Macklowe Properties. At that time, Macklowe alleged Rabin owed $100,000 in unpaid rent plus interest.
In a $6 million countersuit, Rabin said Macklowe was trying to push him out of the retail space before his lease ended to make way for a higher-paying tenant.
Macklowe paid $70 million for the entire building in 2011, and subsequently converted the rental apartments into high-end condos.
By Rabin’s account, Macklowe’s workmen cause damage to his store, destroyed his stockroom and turned off the air conditioning and heat. At one point in 2013, Macklowe warned Rabin, “Don’t forget I am Goliath,” to which Rabin replied, “You just met David,” according to last year’s countersuit.
In March 2014, Macklowe sold the retail space at the base of his condominium to RFR for nearly $20 million. The retail spread includes 4,000-square-feet of space plus 900 square feet on a basement level.
A month after RFR’s acquisition, the developer offered Rabin a new lease for the ground floor and basement with annual rent of $1.1 million and a $275,000 security deposit, according to the suit.
“Aby Rosen is a very tough, but fair businessman. It is not his fault that all of this occurred,” Rabin told TRD on Thursday.
Rabin told TRD that after Rosen bought the retail space, he allowed the boutique to stay. But the store, which previously occupied part of the space, would need to take over the entire spread.
Rabin said he opted to stay, and Rosen subsequently offered him nine months’ worth of free rent and a “substantial” construction allowance to build out the larger store. “I made a tactical error in not using a contractor familiar with Macklowe or Rosen,” he said, describing construction-related delays that followed.
“[Rosen] warned me, ‘I don’t think you can handle the rent,’” Rabin recalled. Asked why he agreed to take the larger space, Rabin said: “Because I have a dream.”
Rabin said he’s looking for a financial partner to take advantage of the prime retail space he’s now occupying. “We’re sitting on gold and we’re mining silver,” he said.