The Real Deal New York

BK investor files lawsuit after piece of $70M assemblage slips away

Abraham Leifer accuses Lieberman Group of breach of contract over $44M deal 
By Rich Bockmann | August 23, 2016 07:00AM

15 Hanover Place in Downtown Brooklyn

15 Hanover Place in Downtown Brooklyn

A Brooklyn investor who was working to quietly assemble a $70 million, 220,000-square-foot Downtown Brooklyn development site is suing one of the sellers for more than $10 million after a deal for a key piece fell through.

Abraham Leifer, who runs Borough Park-based Aview Equities, filed a complaint in Kings County Supreme Court last week against the Lieberman Group after the owner terminated a contract in July to sell a development site at 15 Hanover Place for $44 million.

Representatives for both sides were not immediately available for comment.

According to court documents, Leifer entered contract in December to buy the property, also known as 283 Livingston Street, from seller Henry Lieberman for $44 million, including a $2 million down payment. The closing date was scheduled for Aug. 2.

The property was part of a $70 million-plus assemblage Leifer was putting together that could have made way for an office-and-retail project of more than 220,000 square feet, as The Real Deal reported in January.

By mid-June, the closing date had been moved to July 15, and an amendment to the purchase agreement was written up that required Leifer to increase the down payment to $8 million.

That amendment was never signed though, and when the July 15 closing date came and passed, Lieberman sent notice that he was terminating the contract and would keep the $2 million down payment.

Leifer claims, however, that Lieberman did not provide estoppel certificates – or certifications from tenants verifying details of their leases – in a timely manner, and therefore was not “ready, willing and able” to close the deal.

Leifer is suing for compensatory and punitive damages of no less than $10 million.

It’s not clear what effect this turn of events will have on the larger assemblage. Leifer had deals in place to purchase adjacent properties from two other sellers: John Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group and Harry Blaustein, an investor and optometrist.

A source told TRD that Leifer has “a couple million down hard” on Blaustein’s site at 275-281 Livingston Street, and probably won’t walk away from the deal easily.

Mark Maurer contributed reporting.