Elad’s top sales exec leaves for freelance consulting

Departure prompts speculation Israeli developer has scaled back in NYC

From left: current Elad CEO Udi Erez, the exterior and interior of 250 West Street
From left: current Elad CEO Udi Erez, the exterior and interior of 250 West Street

Elad Group, the developer behind one of New York City’s most talked about – and most fraught — projects of the last decade, the conversion of The Plaza hotel, has lost another executive, prompting some to wonder what the Israel-based firm is up to these days.

Tom Elliott, formerly senior vice president of sales at Elad, resigned earlier this summer, he told The Real Deal, in order to take on consulting projects independently. The company had become less aggressive recently, he said, underscoring that there were no difficulties between him and the firm, which last lost a high-profile executive when CEO Miki Naftali left to form his own company in 2011.

“Once you are a more established company … there is less of an entrepreneurial bent,” Elliott explained. “I am looking for my next big adventure.”

In 2011, Naftali departed amid speculation that the many snags at The Plaza condominium conversion — which dragged on for years and was dogged with allegations of shoddy construction, sluggish sales and lawsuits — were to blame, though he insisted that was not the case. However, The Plaza has recovered, not only selling out but setting a (since broken) record in 2011 for the priciest condo sale in New York City history, at $48 million.

Naftali not only reinvented himself, forging a name for his eponymous business with a rental project in Park Slope and condos on the Upper West Side, he later poached another C-suiter at Elad, Yosi Manor, who resigned from his position as CEO of Elad National Properties last year to join the Naftali Group. (Elad National focused on investments elsewhere in the U.S.)

Earlier this month, Naftali grabbed a $21 million Chelsea site, where he plans to build a 21-story condo tower, as The Real Deal reported.

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Elad, meanwhile, has far fewer projects in the pipeline than do its departed former execs.

Previously, the company developed condos at 49 East 21st Street (2004), the Link condos in Midtown (2007) and the condo redevelopment at Chelsea’s O’Neill building, where a façade collapse forced an evacuation last December (though not before “Law & Order Special Victims Unit” star Mariska Hargitay bought there).

Most recently, the firm saw success with the 111-unit 250 West, which recently topped TRD’s list of most profitable new developments of 2013, closing $313 million in sales in the first half of the year. But, as one source with knowledge of the company who asked not to be named said, “it’s been years since anything happened [financially], and there is a cost of carrying [debt],” that may have burdened the firm.

The only New York City project Elad has undertaken of late, it seems, is Franklin Place, a 58-unit condo project in Tribeca that was supposed to launch sales in January. Instead, sales at the building, which Elad bought for about $45 million last year, launched in June, published reports show.

The company failed to respond to numerous requests for comment.

Elliott said he would still be consulting on 250 West and was “available for other projects.”