Owners of LIC’s “Lake Vernon” notch win in tug-of-war with Durst

Group led by Bruce Teitelbaum plans big development on former Amazon site

New York /
Jun.June 03, 2020 12:35 PM
A rendering of the site at 44-02 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City and Douglas Durst

A rendering of the site at 44-02 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City and Douglas Durst

Investors behind part of a planned 12 million-square-foot development on the Long Island City waterfront are claiming victory in a decade-long fight for control of the site.

The group led by Bruce Teitelbaum that owns the “Lake Vernon” site near the Anable Basin won a favorable ruling last week in their foreclosure case with the Durst family.

The Durst Organization holds the mortgage on the site, 44-02 Vernon Boulevard, and filed to foreclose in 2009. Teitelbaum’s group said it has been trying to pay back the loan for years, but the two sides have disagreed on how much is owed.

Last week, a state Supreme Court judge agreed with the amount — $69.3 million — set by a court-appointed referee last summer, which Durst had challenged.

“The judge effectively confirmed the referee’s report, which prevented Durst from his attempt to inflate the cost of the payoff,” Kramer Levin’s Jay Neveloff, the attorney representing the property owners in the case, told The Real Deal.

Durst had spent millions of dollars on property taxes and fines over the years to keep the city from seizing the neglected property. The two sides also disagreed over how much interest should be charged while the loan was in default.

Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz said the company disagrees with the judge’s decision and plans to appeal.

The legal wrangling over the property hasn’t prevented Teitelbaum and his partners — including MaryAnne Gilmartin’s MAG Partners — from moving forward with a planned mixed-use development on a 28-acre site that includes other properties owned by TF Cornerstone, Plaxall and Simon Baron Development. Teitelbaum, the husband of uber-lobbyist Suri Kasirer, was appointed Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s chief of staff in 1997 and was a confidante of Giuliani’s for years.

After Amazon in February 2019 abandoned an effort to build a portion of its second headquarters on the Anable Basin development site, the owners made plans to develop as many as 15 buildings on the site.

The builders’ task force presented a plan to the local community board last month that broadly outlines 10 million to 12 million square feet of development over the next 10 to 15 years. Half of that total is expected to be commercial, with the other 50 percent split between residential and non-residential uses.

The developers are aiming to start the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure to rezone the property in 2021.

“It’s a terrific development site, and if it proceeds it will be for the city and for the community,” Neveloff said. “I think post-Covid, having the opportunity to put people to work building it and with all the permanent jobs is a great thing.”

Contact Rich Bockmann at [email protected] or 908-415-5229


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