Long-delayed Hudson Heights condo project leaves a developer’s life in tatters

2008 financial collapse brought divorce, bankruptcy for Rutherford "Ruddy" Thompson

A rendering of One Bennett Park at 33-35 Overlook Terrace (Credit: PropertyIDX and iStock)
A rendering of One Bennett Park at 33-35 Overlook Terrace (Credit: PropertyIDX and iStock)

The never-ending saga of Upper Manhattan’s One Bennett Place development site in Washington Heights took another turn in August, when its developer filed for bankruptcy on the eve of the foreclosure auction. It now appears that the true owner of the property may be the developer’s ex-wife, who terminated a grant of power when the the deal failed to get off the ground.

As legal wrangling around the property continues, Crain’s took a look at the personal toll this development has taken on Rutherford “Ruddy” Thompson, who acquired the site at 33-35 Overlook Terrace in 2002 – his first attempt at developing a building from the ground up.

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The former bank executive received a $95 million loan and was able to begin construction on a 23-story, 114-unit condominium in 2007, but funding was soon halted due to the financial crisis, miring Thompson in debts and lawsuits, eventually leading to a divorce and multiple heart attacks.

Thompson’s chances of coming out with a profit are slim at this point, and he will be worth “less than zero” if he fails to do so, he said. He says he may have to move to China, where he has been before and where “they can use people like me who know English and who are honest.”

“The narrative about developers making tons of money isn’t always true,” said David Scharf, a lawyer at Morrison Cohen who represents the interests of Thompson’s ex-wife in the condo project. [Crains] — Kevin Sun