The Real Deal New York

Isaac Chetrit sues would-be buyer of Garment District office building for allegedly backing out

Frank Ng accused of defaulting twice after entering contract to pay $38M
By Mark Maurer | March 06, 2017 12:35PM

UPDATED, 2:24 p.m., March 6: It looks like Isaac Chetrit is stuck with a vacant Garment District office building he rescued from distress — and sought to flip — for longer than he expected.

Chetrit filed a lawsuit Friday against the buyer of a 14-story property at 315 West 35th Street for allegedly backing out. The Garment District-based investor entered contract in August 2016 to sell it to New Jersey-based importer-exporter Frank Ng for $38 million, roughly a year after winning the bid for it at a bankruptcy auction, as The Real Deal reported at the time. 

According to the suit, Ng defaulted twice after the 63,000-square-foot building went to contract. The closing was delayed several times, to Feb. 28, from the initial date of Oct. 31, 2016. At the first planning closing, Ng pulled out 45 minutes before they were supposed to meet at a Shanghai Commercial Bank branch, Chetrit claims in the lawsuit.

Chetrit, who runs AB & Sons with his brother Eli and son Abraham, is seeking that his firm be awarded the $3.8 million that’s already in escrow and declare Ng in default.

In response to the suit, Jacques Catafago, the lawyer for Ng, said: “This piece of litigation is most unfortunate. As will be established in court, Mr. Chetrit’s company, as seller, first materially defaulted in its clear contractual obligations to assist in connection with development and air rights for the building.”

Ng, who runs Bayonne, N.J.-based Golden Fortune Import & Export, was also the only other bidder at the 2015 auction. He had offered $42.25 million for the building, while Chetrit, a cousin to real estate mogul Joseph Chetrit, bid $43 million. Chetrit had considered converting the property to high-end residential condominiums.

Chetrit is planning to seek a rezoning of a 216,400-square-foot Ridgewood warehouse for a residential rental conversion  and is also developing a 70-story mixed-use tower on Sixth Avenue in the Garment District.