Cohen Brothers Realty sues storied landlord to stay in Park Ave South building

Leaseholder alleges Solil Management is trying to end lease early — again

TRD New York /
Nov.November 18, 2019 04:17 PM
475 Park Avenue South (Credit: Google Maps)

475 Park Avenue South (Credit: Google Maps)

Cohen Brothers Realty is firing back as its landlord tries to cut short its ground lease at a Murray Hill office tower — and not for the first time.

Cohen is suing Sol Goldman Investments to stay at 475 Park Avenue South, the 34-story building where Cohen has held the ground lease since 1967. The land owner is part of the real estate empire Solil Management, built by the late Sol Goldman.

Cohen’s complaint, filed in New York County Supreme Court last week, alleges that their landlord is trying to cut the lease short by citing 18 violations from the city’s buildings and fire departments.

The Cohens have cured 10 of the violations and are resolving the rest, the filing states. The firm asked their landlord for an extension but was denied, according to the complaint.

Over the last 10 years, Cohen has poured $40 million into renovating the building. The improvements include a new exterior glass curtain wall designed by Cesar Pelli and modernization of the building’s elevators.

Messages left for Cohen and Solil Management — which manages the portfolio built by Goldman, who died in 1987 at age 70 after amassing some 600 buildings — were not immediately returned.

The Cohens — brothers Sherman, Mortimer and Edward — took over the ground lease at 475 Park Avenue South in 1967. The lease is up for renewal in 2047 with an option to sign it again for another 25 years, and all the rent owed under the lease has been paid, according to the complaint.

This wasn’t the first lawsuit Cohen has filed against Goldman in order to continue its lease at the nearly 450,000-square-foot office tower, which is a few blocks from Madison Square Park.

A 2016 case alleges that during a refinancing of the leasehold, Cohen received an estoppel certificate and a notice of default from the landlord citing six violations that Cohen’s complaint claims were either fixed or in the process of being fixed.

The suit was dropped a few months later, and New York Community Bank provided a $121 million refinancing deal for the leasehold, property records show.

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