Tahari seals the deal for 88 University Place with $70M buy

Village property at center of dispute between designer, Normandy Real Estate Partners

Elie Tahari and 88 University Place in Greenwich Village
Elie Tahari and 88 University Place in Greenwich Village

Fashion designer Elie Tahari scooped up an 11-story Greenwich Village building from Himmel + Meringoff Properties for $70 million — the latest twist in an ongoing legal dispute between Tahari, developer Gerald Rosengarten and Normandy Real Estate Partners over the property.

While the 75,000-square-foot building at 88 University Place has been at the forefront of the fight, Tahari closed on the purchase July 30, according to property records filed with the city Tuesday.

That amount would represent the building’s purchase option, which along with its ground lease has been the subject of a lawsuit by Normandy against Tahari and Rosengarten. Normandy claims it entered an agreement with Rosengarten – who held the building’s ground lease and a $70 million purchase option with Himmel + Meringoff – earlier this year to acquire both.

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But Normandy’s suit alleges that a day after the firm signed a letter of intent on the deal and posted a $500,000 escrow deposit, Rosengarten instead opted to sell 88 University Place’s lease and purchase option to Tahari – using Normandy as “a stalking horse to get Tahari to sign a contract.” Normandy’s lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages.

While Normandy’s agreement with Rosengarten contained an “exclusivity” provision barring Rosengarten from taking rival offers for the property, Tahari was exempted from that provision, according to the suit. Rosengarten and Tahari have also claimed in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the escrow deposit posted by Normandy “did not satisfy” requirements.

Tahari subsequently took legal acton of his own against Normandy, filing a summons claiming “interference” on the deal by Normandy that has hindered his “ability to close on financing” for the deal from lenders. The summons seeks no less than $25 million from Normandy.

Legal representatives for Tahari, Rosengarten and Normandy did not respond to requests for comment. Himmel + Meringoff could not be reached either.