The Daily Dirt: A legal victory for commercial landlords

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

New York /
Aug.August 05, 2020 07:00 PM

This landlord-tenant dispute may offer some hope to office owners.

A state court judge ruled that Backal Hospitality Group must pay the Moinian Group $10 million in future rent, Georgia Kromrei reports.

Backal had argued that because Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned large gatherings, the company should be able to walk away from its lease at 627 West 42nd Street. But Judge Kathryn Freed, a former City Council member who represented lower Manhattan in the 1990s, found that Backal “unilaterally attempted to terminate the lease” in a manner the contract did not allow.

Had Freed ruled in Backal’s favor, other commercial tenants who are challenging their lease terms for Covid-related reasons may have had stronger cases.

“That would have been incredibly draconian,” said Jeffrey Goldman, a partner at Belkin Burden Goldman who represented the landlord. “This case sends a signal to commercial tenants that their claims of impossibility of performance or frustration of purpose will not be met with success.”

Virtual brokerage eXp Realty saw record profits during the second quarter.

The firm brought in a record $8.3 million, E.B. Solomont reports. Revenue grew 33 percent year-over-year to $354 million.

Glenn Sanford, eXp’s CEO, noted during an earnings call Wednesday that the company already had “the minimum footprint required” to operate — meaning very little office space — when the pandemic hit. The firm was able to quickly cut costs by eliminating all business travel, slashing executive pay, freezing hiring and letting go 15 percent of its staff. Still, the company closed out the quarter with 31,000 agents — 54 percent more than a year ago.

“Due to the performance of our agents and the power of our cloud-based brokerage model, eXp Realty achieved exceptional results with strong growth in all areas, despite initial impacts on the housing market from business restrictions related to Covid-19,” Sanford said in a statement.

What we’re thinking about: Will Condé Nast move out of 1 World Trade Center? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Wednesday was for a condo unit at 400 West 61st Street on the Upper West Side at $5.3 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 2105 Walton Avenue in Fordham Heights at $7 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 57,294-square-foot residential building at 125 Kings Highway in Gravesend. Joseph Brunner of Bruman Realty filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo at 390 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side at $25 million. Corcoran has the listing.
— Research by Orion Jones

A thing we’ve learned…

Los Angeles has more production studio space than the entire United Kingdom — or Vancouver and Toronto combined, or New York City and Georgia combined, according to CMBS ratings documents. Thank you to Kevin Sun, who passed along this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— New York City plans to install informational checkpoints at major points of entry to identify travelers from states with high rates of coronavirus, Gothamist reports. “Travelers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine and they will be reminded that it is required, not optional,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “They’ll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law and it comes with serious penalties.”

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday took over as the head of the National Governors Association, an organization that has become more relevant during the pandemic, Politico New York reports. “The only course forward in both our states’ self interest and our collective interest is to lock arms and leave this virus no place to spread,” Cuomo said.

— Legendary journalist and author Pete Hamill died Wednesday following a fall that fractured his right hip, the New York Daily News reports. “Newspaperman, novelist, mentor to so many, citizen of the world,” tweeted New York Times columnist Dan Barry. “I once wrote that if the pavement of New York City could talk, it would sound like Pete Hamill. Now that city weeps.”


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