Apthorp broker Howard Margolis talks discounts

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Howard Margolis discussed the Apthorp at a continuing education class at Touro College.

Now is a good time for deals at controversial Upper West Side condo conversion the Apthorp, said Howard Margolis, executive vice president and managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman, who heads up sales for the project.

Prices have dropped to an average of $1,850 per square foot for a finished apartment, down from $3,000 when the 163-unit building, which spans an entire block between Broadway and West End Avenue on 79th Street, first came on the market in June 2008.

The Apthorp narrowly avoided foreclosure in January after lenders Anglo Irish Bank and Apollo Real Estate demanded that Maurice Mann, the original sponsor of the condo conversion, pay more than $22 million to correct a loan imbalance. Mann was replaced as managing agent by Broadwall Management, and the price cuts represent the latest effort to kick-start sales at the struggling building. Mann also recently lost a court battle with Broadwall and Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel in an attempt to block the building’s new business plan from moving forward.

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Margolis said Elliman felt the prices had been too high to begin with.

“Developers really didn’t take Elliman input on pricing,” Margolis said to an audience of brokers attending a continuing education course at Touro College this afternoon.

The Apthorp’s developers now have four months to make the building’s plan effective. If 15 percent of the units have not been sold by Sept. 1, the developers would need to wait a year to file the plan again, Margolis said. He would not identify which percentage of units have been sold so far.

“It’s still possible” that the Apthorp could sell enough units by Sept. 1 for the plan to be declared effective, he said.