The Real Deal New York

27-year-old brokerage closes its doors

By Guelda Voien | January 01, 2013 07:00AM

Jerry Weinstein

After a long public slog through financial trouble and litigation, the once-dominant rental brokerage Manhattan Apartments ceased operations last month.

The firm’s remaining agents were given the option of joining rental rival AC Lawrence, a division of the Bellmarc Group, which took over Manhattan Apartments’ 11,000-square-foot space at 729 Seventh Avenue near Times Square.

The 27-year-old firm, helmed by Jerry Weinstein — a figure described by competitors as inspiring a “cult-like following” —  had failed to pay brokers for months, forcing them to do deals in cash in order to get paid, a source told The Real Deal.

Weinstein has joined AC Lawrence as a consultant, a spokesperson for the firm said.

AC Lawrence was itself acquired recently by Bellmarc Companies, the parent company of Bellmarc Realty.

Despite their shared emphasis on rentals, Manhattan Apartments and AC Lawrence might seem like strange bedfellows. In 2011, Weinstein filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against AC Lawrence and its principals, Larry Friedman and Anthony DeGrotta, and Weinstein’s then-business partner, supermarket mogul Leonard Franzblau, alleging breach of contract and fraud and asking $10 million plus punitive damages.

Franzblau, an investor who brought a cash infusion to Manhattan Apartments several years ago, had hired Friedman and DeGrotta to act as consultants at the struggling Manhattan Apartments. He countersued Weinstein with the AC Lawrence principals.