Extell sues Sheldon Solow in latest blow over 57th Street site

Gary Barnett and Sheldon Solow
Gary Barnett and Sheldon Solow

The tables have turned on famously litigious landlord Sheldon Solow, who is now facing a lawsuit from another major Manhattan real estate player, Gary Barnett.

Extell Development, led by Barnett, has accused Solow of getting in the way of the start of construction on his latest project, a new tower at 16-18 West 57th Street, according to a petition filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court.

Solow has allegedly refused to grant access to his three properties ringing Barnett’s site. Barnett claimed he needs access to 10 West 57th Street, 20 West 57th Street and 19 West 56th Street to conduct structural surveys and install protections before demolishing an existing five-story building on his site.

Solow could not be reached for comment.

Barnett is preparing the property for development – likely a hotel project — despite having put it on the market earlier this year with Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan of CBRE, according to previous reports.

Solow had initially expressed interest in purchasing the site, but those negotiations collapsed in July, prompting Barnett to decide to develop it himself, according to the petition.

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Extell purchased the site for $80 million in 2011 from residential broker Ilan Bracha, founder of Keller Williams NYC, and development partner Haim Binstock. He reportedly outbid Solow for the site at the time in an effort to prevent the landlord from assembling such a large package on 57th Street at the same time that Barnett had been planning One57, his residential tower at 157 West 57th Street, which is now topped out.

With the addition of 16-18 West 57th Street, Solow would have had a 23,750-square-foot lot with a total 356,250 buildable square feet, according to previous reports.

Extell said in court papers it had submitted three written requests to Solow’s office, but the veteran developer has ignored requests for access since sale talks broke down and “refused to even speak to permit counsel.”

Barnett did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Traditionally, Solow has been the one on the filing end of real estate-related litigation. The developer reportedly has more than 200 lawsuits to his name, including a recent suit filed against banks including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America for allegedly manipulating the LIBOR rate, causing him to lose $100 million.