El-Gamal claims lender violated sharia terms on Tribeca tower loan

Developer is tussling with Maybank for control of 45 Park Place

Sharif El-Gamal and 45 Park Place (Courtesy of Williams NY/Soma; Gamal via Getty)
Sharif El-Gamal and 45 Park Place (Courtesy of Williams NY/Soma; Gamal via Getty)

Sharif El-Gamal put together one of the most unusual financing packages in the history of New York City real estate when he secured a sharia-compliant construction loan four years ago for his glitzy Tribeca condo tower.

Now, as the developer battles with his lender for control of the stalled project, El-Gamal is claiming that the Malaysian bank that made the loan has violated the sharia terms, which require both sides to be more accommodating than is typical in New York real estate.

Malaysian lender Maybank, which made the $162 million loan in 2016, has “failed to act in conformance with the principles of Sharia law,” Islam’s legal framework, which requires a “heightened standard of good faith and fair dealing,” attorneys for El-Gamal’s Soho Properties wrote in court papers filed earlier this week.

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El-Gamal argues Maybank violated the terms of their agreement by refusing to release construction funds, “effectively thwarting” his ability to complete the project at 45 Park Place and causing “irreparable damage to [Soho Properties’] relationship with its contractor.”

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He said he is seeking damages equal to the projected sellout of the development, or about $245 million. Representatives for El-Gamal and Maybank could not be immediately reached for comment.

The move comes after Maybank filed to foreclose on the property in March. The bank claims El-Gamal defaulted on his loan when he failed to repay the $108 million balance when it came due in April.

Maybank also claims that El-Gamal, who is part of a group working to develop an Islamic museum next to 45 Park, retaliated against the bank’s efforts to get the development under control by threatening to revoke air rights the condo development acquired from the cultural center site.

El-Gamal denies he was behind the threat, claiming he stepped down from his leadership role at the entity behind the museum project.

On Thursday, lawyers for architect Jean Nouvel, who designed the Islamic center and a public plaza for the condo tower, filed a lawsuit claiming the company is owed $115,000. The suit named the limited liability company that formerly owned the museum site as a defendant.

Contact Rich Bockmann at rb@therealdeal.com or 908-415-5229