The defense rests? Co-owner of UWS walk-up says dead partner is scheming to prevent sale

SM&S Associates says Sydell Pine -- who died in 2014 -- might be taking more than her fair share at 510 Amsterdam

TRD New York /
Dec.December 19, 2016 03:22 PM

Real estate deals can sometimes have grave consequences.

The co-owner of an Upper West Side walk-up building claims that another partner has been actively blocking the sale of the property, even though records show she’s been dead for nearly three years.

SM&S Associates claims Sydell Pine — who records show died in January 2014 at age 81 — and her son-in-law Thomas Rohlman have stopped the sale of the 23-unit building at 510 Amsterdam Avenue, “preventing the distribution of millions of dollars” to its two partners.

In court documents, SM&S says 510 Amsterdam is owned by Ironton Realty LLC, a partnership between SM&S, Pine and the Farkas family — who each own one-third of the building. SM&S includes Philip Shapiro, Susan Levkoff, Doris Mortman, Harvey Schwartz and the Marvin L. Schwartz Testamentary Trust. Pine, whose family owns the real estate management firm Pine Management, is listed as Ironton’s managing member. Rohlman is Pine Management’s CEO, and was named as a defendant.

Property records show that Ironton has owned the building at 510 Amsterdam since at least 1996, and before that members of SM&S and their relatives owned the property. According to the suit, Ironton’s articles of agreement stipulate that the building is to be put on the market by Dec. 31, 2016, at which time the partnership is to be dissolved.

But Pine has refused to do so, the suit alleges, “placing the personal self-interest of herself and her family over that of Ironton and Ironton’s other members.”

A lawyer for SM&S could not immediately be reached to shed light on why Pine was named as a defendant. Pine Management and its attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit alleges that although Pine is Ironton’s managing member, she “appears to have abandoned” the role, giving Pine Management and Rohlman — who does not have an ownership stake — “unfettered, unsupervised decision making authority” over Ironton.

Pine and Rohlman have allegedly denied the other investors access to Ironton’s books, the suit says, prompting speculation that Pine could be overcompensating herself and her family.

The mixed-use building was valued at $17.5 million last year, according to the suit, which cited a recommendation by a real estate brokerage to list the property for $18.5 million. The six-story walkup, located on Amsterdam between West 84th and West 85th streets, has 23 rental apartments and 2,500 square feet of ground-floor retail.

Pine Management owns and manages 38 properties in Manhattan and Brooklyn, according to its website. The building at 510 Amsterdam currently has a pair of two-bedroom apartments available — one asking $2,995 a month and the other asking $3,250 a month, according to StreetEasy.

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