Durst works out a sale for Eichner’s East Harlem site

Developer in contract to buy distressed property at 1800 Park Avenue

From left: Douglas Durst and Ian Bruce Eichner with a rendering of 1800 Park Avenue
From left: Douglas Durst and Ian Bruce Eichner with a rendering of 1800 Park Avenue

The Durst Organization worked out a sale with Ian Bruce Eichner to buy his distressed development site in East Harlem.

Earlier this year, Durst acquired just shy of $100 million worth of distressed debt on the property at 1800 Park Avenue, where Eichner’s the Continuum Company had plans to build Upper Manhattan’s tallest towers: a pair of 32-story mixed-use buildings with 682 rental apartments.

The Durst Organization moved to foreclose on the site and even scheduled an auction for late April. But rather than go through the prolonged and messy foreclosure process – where Eichner could potentially make life difficult for Durst by holding things up in the courts – the two sides cut a deal behind the scenes in a sale, sources said.

“We have entered a contract to purchase the property,” Durst spokesperson Jordan Barowitz told The Real Deal.

It’s not clear how much Durst paid for the site. A memorandum of contract hit property records last week, though no price was listed.

Eichner could not be immediately reached for comment.

Prior to losing the site fronting the full block along Park Avenue between East 124th and 125th streets, the developer had poured a footing that makes it eligible for the now-expired 421a tax abatement.

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The bust leaves Eichner, a charismatic developer who appears to have nine lives, with a record of 1-1 during this cycle.

He bought the site for $66 million in 2013 from Vornado Realty Trust – which had stalled plans to develop an office building – as he made his return to New York City development with another project: a 65-story condo tower in the Flatiron District at 45 East 22nd Street where sales appear to be moving briskly.

During a panel discussion on the state of the luxury residential market at The Real Deal’s new development forum in May, Eichner said there’s a major supply problem at the upper end of the market.

“Is the market dead? Of course not,” he said. “Are we going to be pained? Absolutely.”

In previous cycles Eichner developed, and lost control of, Las Vegas’ most expensive casino and the 1.1 million-square-foot office tower at 1540 Broadway in Times Square.

But he also successfully developed CitySpire Center – the tallest mixed-use building in New York when it opened in 1987 – and the Continuum condo towers in Miami.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly characterized the transaction between the Durst Organization and the Continuum Company as a short sale. It is simply a sale.