Magic partnership breathes new life into condo

Basketball star Magic Johnson helps to restart stalled project in Brooklyn

A partnership cofounded by basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson has recapitalized the stalled Isabella condominium in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, with $22.6 million in new financing, and the developers have retained the Corcoran Group to relaunch sales.

Garden City, N.Y.-based Ornstein Leyton was awarded the new financing through an agreement with Los Angeles-based Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, a venture between Magic Johnson Enterprises and Canyon Capital Realty Advisors.

“Our development expertise, together with Canyon’s ability to structure and execute complex transactions, will enable us to successfully complete the Isabella,” said Scott Leyton, a principal at Ornstein Leyton, in a news release. Ornstein Leyton, co-led by Alec Ornstein, originally acquired the site in 2006 for $11.25 million.

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HSBC Bank filed to foreclose on the mortgage loan in September 2009, according to PropertyShark.com and Kings County Supreme Court records, but sources told The Real Deal that the new financing was negotiated under a deal involving the original lenders, the developers and Canyon Capital.

“Unlike other real estate funds, CJUF does not shop around for distressed debt,” the source told The Real Deal. “Instead, the funds engage in negotiated transactions that are often brought to their attention through the project’s sponsor, or by the lenders themselves.”

The seven-story building, at 545 Washington Avenue, offers a range of studios and one- and two-bedroom units, with an average price of $530,000. The condo units feature Bosch appliances, Silestone countertops, a health club, indoor parking and a landscaped roof.

The project is nearly completed, and the original contractors will complete the individual units while Corcoran resumes sales. The property was previously marketed by the Developers Group. Officials there were not immediately available for comment, and neither were Corcoran officials. Ornstein Leyton officials were also not immediately available for comment.