Sitt’s Thor trying to get out of $43M Bronx deal: sources

Developer in talks to be released from September contract

975 Walton Avenue and Joseph Sitt
975 Walton Avenue and Joseph Sitt

UPDATED, 2:01 p.m., April 28: Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities is trying to exit a hard contract to pay $42.5 million for a large Bronx rental building, sources told The Real Deal.

Thor entered contract in September for the six-story, 280,000-square-foot, 182-unit property at 975 Walton Avenue, in what was poised to be one of the largest recent single-building deals in the borough. The closing price would come out to about $150 per square foot.

But in the seven months since signing the contract, Thor has had trouble closing the deal, sources said.

A source close to Thor [TRDataCustom] said the firm doesn’t expect to enter litigation and hopes to work out an agreement with the seller, Brooklyn investor Benzion Kohn. Another source said Kohn is unwilling to release Thor from the contract.

A Thor spokesperson declined to comment, and Kohn could not be immediately reached.

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Since entering contract, Thor lost the heads of its residential arm, Alan Klein and Jonathan Fishman, who were leading the deal with Sitt. Klein and Fishman, who left in January after nearly four years, oversaw the firm’s aggressive expansion into residential properties, mostly in Upper Manhattan.

The 975 Walton property, a short walk from Yankee Stadium, has sold twice since 2010, when it sold for $11.3 million. Kohn then bought it from Irving Langer’s E&M Associates for $31 million in April 2015.

In addition to Klein and Fishman, other executives such as acquisitions vice president Scott Sherman and leasing vice president Michael Wortham have left the firm in recent months. Michael Schurer, the former CFO of the firm, stepped down from his position and took on an advisory role. He was replaced by Fess Wofse, former CFO of Apollo Global Real Estate Management.

Thor closed in October on the $30 million purchase of the Salvation Army’s former home in Williamsburg after a series of delays involving a commission dispute.  The firm also backed out of a soft contract in 2015 to buy the 24-building Caiola portfolio in Manhattan for about $780 million, which Blackstone Group and Fairstead Capital acquired later that year for $690 million.

In March, TRD revealed that Gary Cohn, the White House’s chief economic adviser and former Goldman Sachs president, is a partner on a number of Thor properties.

This story was updated to reflect the fact that Schurer is still working at Thor in an advisory role.