Giscombe claims it was stiffed on Harlem condo commission

MNS and ex-unit sponsor Uptown Partners named in lawsuit stemming from $2M sale

Yvonne Maddox and 380 Lenox Avenue in Harlem
Yvonne Maddox and 380 Lenox Avenue in Harlem

Harlem brokerage Giscombe Realty Group has filed a lawsuit against Flatiron-based brokerage MNS and Lewis Futterman’s Uptown Partners to seek a 3 percent commission on an apartment at a luxury Upper Manhattan condominium building it allegedly never received.

In September, Giscombe broker Yvonne Maddox referred prospective buyers for unit 12J at the complex, located at 380 Lenox Avenue Near West 129th Street, according to the suit filed today in New York State Supreme Court. Four months later, the prospective buyers entered contract. At the time, Giscombe allegedly made an agreement with the seller’s broker at MNS and then-unit sponsor Futterman to receive 3 percent of the purchase price, the suit claims. By February 28, the deal closed for $2 million.

Giscombe claims that the sponsor and his broker made a private agreement with Next City Realty to deprive Maddox of a commission. The firm is seeking more than $59,787 from the defendants, citing unjust enrichment. Futterman could not be reached for comment.

“This is the first we’ve heard about this suit, nor have we been properly served,” Andrew Barrocas, CEO of MNS, said in a statement provided to TRD. “Furthermore, we have never heard from the plaintiff on any prior occasion about any issue with our company. Frankly, we executed a very small fraction of deals at 380 Lenox, and so there is a good chance we were not even involved. I am quite confident MNS did nothing improper.”

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The 77-unit, 12-story building — best known as one of Harlem’s first market-rate condominium projects — was also recently at the center of another lawsuit. The board of managers sued Uptown Partners over claims that the property is riddled with building code violations and rife with construction defects, as The Real Deal reported in January. The board also claimed that Futterman attempted to defraud the board and avoid facing liability over the alleged construction failures.

That lawsuit is currently in settlement talks, sources said.

Sales launched at the building in 2006. Forty-two of the units sold, but the sponsors soon fell into financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Sales reopened when the sponsor came to a deal with its lender in 2011, as previously reported.