Web hits: The month in review

<i>Hightlights from www.TheRealDeal.com</i>

AG forces Sheffield57 to suspend sales

Sheffield57 developer Kent Swig was forced to halt sales after state regulators notified the sponsor that the offering plan at the troubled West Side condo had expired, three sources familiar with the decision said.

Swig will not be able to sell any apartments until state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo approves its 19th amendment to the offering plan, which legal sources said is required to update prospective buyers about any material changes in the operation of a condo or co-op conversion. A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office did not return calls seeking comment.

On Sept. 9, 2008, Swig issued an 18th amendment, but that amendment only updated unit prices at the building, and the Martin Act, which regulates conversions in New York State, says pricing-only amendments do not extend the expiration of the offering plan.

About three months earlier, Sheffield57 issued the 17th amendment, which included information about the reserve fund balance, working capital fund, certificate of occupancy, number of units sold and construction schedule at the building.

The decision by the attorney general comes at a critical time for Sheffield57, which sources said had millions of dollars in mezzanine debt coming due last month and is actively trying to refinance the building. Analysts said that with fewer than half of the building’s projected 587 apartments sold, lenders will be reluctant to finance a building with so many fundamental challenges. By David Jones

Eastern Consolidated cuts broker ranks

Investment sales brokerage Eastern Consolidated cut six brokers and five support staff last month in response to sharply reduced sales volume over the past year, company co-founder Peter Hauspurg said.

The company, based in Midtown, now has about 40 brokers on staff, said Hauspurg, the firm’s chairman and CEO.

“Due to the greatly reduced volume in the sales market nationwide and New York City in particular, we have slimmed down to a team that has experience in good markets and bad,” he said.

He said he expected that by the end of this year or the beginning of 2010, distressed properties entering the market would spur more sales activity.

Hauspurg said in general those cut were more junior brokers, each with less than three years of experience, who worked on sales in New York City, but not in the surrounding area. He did not anticipate more layoffs, and, in fact, plans to add a senior broker shortly. By Adam Pincus

Sales price per foot halved at the Plaza Hotel Residences

A second-floor duplex at the Plaza Hotel Residences sold for $2,751 per square foot, about half the price that similarly sized units were closing for last year.

The three-bedroom unit with 4,283 square feet was sold by the developer, Elad Properties, to a company called Paradeplatz Ltd. for $11.786 million.

The condo faces Central Park in the rehabilitated hotel at 768 Fifth Avenue.

The purchase by Paradeplatz went into contract in September 2008 and closed May 15, according to city property records published last month.

A similar, but slightly smaller, sponsor unit on the fourth floor with 3,912 square feet went into contract in 2006 and closed in August 2008 for $21.5 million, or $5,504 per square foot, city records show.

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A smaller duplex on an upper floor that the developer sold went into contract in 2007 and closed in January 2009 for $11.076 million, or $4,055 per square foot, records show. Elad Properties declined to comment on the sale. By Adam Pincus

Brooklyn developer files for Chapter 11 protection

Fred Deutsch, developer of a four-story residential building at 338-342 22nd Street in the Greenwood section of Brooklyn, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

Deutsch, the owner of LD Development and 11 other entities he controls, filed for bankruptcy protection May 11 in federal court in Manhattan, according to the filings. The liabilities for LD Development were allegedly between $10 million and $50 million, while assets were between $1 million and $10 million.

The Brooklyn project had a stop-work order served on April 30, which remained in effect late last month, the city Department of Buildings Web site said.

Deutsch is the founder of Voxonic, a Manhattan software company based at 244 East 62nd Street that can transform a speaker’s voice into hundreds of languages, according to the company’s Web site. Another entity controlled by Deutsch, 244 East LLC, which has owned the 62nd Street building since March 2006, when it purchased the property for $4.5 million, also filed for bankruptcy.

In May 2006, Deutsch sold a 30-story building at 114 East 32nd Street to the developer of the Jasper, Harry Jeremias, for $53 million, 43 years after purchasing the building for an undisclosed price, according to records at the New York City Department of Finance . The building was once an office tower; Jeremias is planning to convert the property into residential apartments. By Adam Pincus

Corcoran Group veteran Mitchell Lawrence dies

Longtime Corcoran Group broker Mitchell Lawrence died last month after 21 years with the company.

Friends and family gathered at a memorial service last month at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue at 30 West 68th Street. Corcoran did not release the cause of death.

Lawrence is survived by his longtime partner, Joseph Dwyer, a Corcoran vice president; his sister Stacey Lippman; brother-in-law John Lippman; and his niece Danielle Lippman.

Lawrence, 54, was a senior managing director at Corcoran’s 12th Street office at the time of his death, after joining the firm in 1988, according to an e-mail alerting employees at the company of his death.

Pamela Liebman, Corcoran’s CEO, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lawrence “belonged to that special class of Corcoran folk we call ‘old-timers,'” the e-mail said. “As such, he played an important part in shaping the character of the firm in its early days. Many of the photos we possess of those years feature a smiling Mitchell — he always wanted to be where the fun was.” By Candace Taylor

Bobby Short, Leonard Bernstein eight-room home on the market

The sprawling, eight-room apartment at the Osborne that was home to cabaret singer Bobby Short and composer Leonard Bernstein is on the market for the first time in two decades, according to the listing broker, Katie Rosenberg of Warburg Realty.

Apartment 4B is a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath co-op in the century-old Osborne at 205 West 57th Street, designed with 11 stories on the front and 15 on the back. The sellers, whom Rosenberg declined to name, are asking $3.495 million, or $1,165 per square foot for the home, which underwent 14 months of restoration before going on the market in late April, said Rosenberg, who escorted The Real Deal on an exclusive tour of the apartment. The monthly maintenance is $4,662.

The Bernsteins took up residence in 1961, the year Osborne residents banded together to buy the building and turn it into a co-op in the face of a proposal to replace it with a 17-story apartment building. Apartment 4B was purchased by actor Larry Storch, Rosenberg said. Then, in the 1970s, Bobby Short, the cabaret singer and pianist known for his longtime gig at the Carlyle, moved in, staying for 14 years before selling to the current owners in 1986, according to Rosenberg. By Candace Taylor