The Daily Dirt: Compass heads to trial

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

Feb.February 21, 2020 01:05 PM
Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and Avi Dorfman (Illustration by The Real Deal)

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and Avi Dorfman (Illustration by The Real Deal)

Compass didn’t want to go to trial. But it looks like alleged co-founder Avi Dorfman will have his day in court.

Back in 2014, Dorfman sued the SoftBank-backed brokerage, alleging he’d been unfairly squeezed out of Compass after helping CEO Robert Reffkin create the concept for it.

Late last year, a state judge ordered a trial for the case — a decision Compass appealed. In its motion, the firm argued that Dorfman was involved prior to October 2012, before the company was incorporated. But an appellate court judge ruled Thursday that Reffkin and the firm’s chair had signed nondisclosure agreements on behalf of Compass by that time, and were “actively engaging potential investors.” The judge denied Compass’ motion, and the case is poised to go to trial, E.B. Solomont reports.

“The documentary evidence in the record shows that Dorfman … developed materials to secure financial backing from investors — including Goldman Sachs — and the deposition testimony and email evidence showed that Dorfman introduced and recruited Paul Goudas to Urban Compass,” the Feb. 20 decision reads.

Dorfman is seeking an estimated $200 million-plus stake in Compass, which is valued at $6.4 billion. It’ll be interesting to see what turns up during discovery.

Getting talking points in front of Carl Heastie with a little help from his friend.

REBNY hired Patrick Jenkins to lobby for the extension of the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program, a tax break that would have been worth about $900 million to Amazon, Georgia Kromrei reports. He will lead the effort, backed by a coalition of business groups and dubbed the Five Borough Jobs Campaign.

“REAP is an existential issue for many small and medium-sized businesses,” Jenkins said in a statement. “We must incentivize job creation to benefit equity in every borough, not just in Midtown Manhattan.”

According to some, Jenkins’ longstanding relationship with the Assembly speaker and his work for major developers made him an obvious hire for REBNY.

Jenkins, who was Heastie’s roommate at SUNY Stony Brook in the 1980s and continues to be paid by the speaker’s political action committee for consulting services, also lobbied on behalf of William Zeckendorf last year to kill a proposed pied-à-terre tax. He’s working this year to help make sure that the legislation isn’t resurrected. He has also lobbied for the Durst Organization and Malaysian casino developer Genting.

What we’re thinking about: What other developers’ TASE bonds are being shorted? Send a note and any documentation to [email protected].


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Thursday was for a co-op unit at 930 Fifth Avenue in Lenox Hill, at $4.5 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for the leasehold on the office building at 320 West 31st Street in Midtown at $88 million.


The largest new building filing of the day was for a 65,850-square-foot mixed-use project at 369 Quentin Road in Gravesend. Abeco Management filed the permit application.


The priciest new residential listing was for a condo at 1 Central Park West in Lincoln Square at $27 million. Corcoran Group’s Deanna Kory has the listing.

— Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

Jonathan Wiener of Chestnut Holdings is apparently the brother of Joel Wiener of Pinnacle Group. Thank you to Kevin Sun for this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— Happy the elephant is not a person, according to a Bronx Supreme Court judge. Alison Tuitt dismissed a petition by advocates that claimed the elephant’s “personhood” was violated by being “unlawfully imprisoned” at the Bronx Zoo, Gothamist reports.

— The Angels were out of line! Mayor Bill de Blasio is upset that the Los Angeles baseball team charged his security detail for tickets to a game against his beloved Boston Red Sox, the New York Post reports. “Who on earth charges the police? I don’t know what the hell the Angels were thinking,” the mayor said.

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t “holding [his] breath” that the federal government will approve congestion pricing, Politico New York reports. The MTA needs federal approval because some of the affected roadways are federally funded. Congestion pricing is supposed to generate $15 billion for the cash-strapped MTA. The Trump administration has also been holding up billions of dollars for a New York-New Jersey passenger-rail project.

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