Vornado goes after Elie Tahari for bailing on Fifth Ave lease

REIT wants womenswear chain to cough up $15M

Elie Tahari, 510 Fifth Avenue and Vornado chairman Steve Roth (VNO; Getty)
Elie Tahari, 510 Fifth Avenue and Vornado chairman Steve Roth (VNO; Getty)

Elie Tahari allegedly bailed on its Midtown lease, and now landlord Vornado Realty Trust is seeking $14.8 million in future rent payments.

The real estate investment trust filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court this week alleging Elie Tahari breached its lease by vacating its “commercial space” at 510 Fifth Avenue in July. The lawsuit does not specify whether the dispute is over the women’s clothing retailer’s ground-floor store or its fifth-floor headquarters in the office portion of the building.

A representative for Vornado declined to comment, and its attorney, David Skalller of Belkin Burden Goldman, did not return a request for comment. A spokesperson for Elie Tahari also did not return a request for comment.

Vornado is seeking to collect the rent payments on the remainder of the lease, which expires in December 2025, according to the complaint. The landlord is also seeking to collect on $586,601 that it alleges Elie Tahari owed in unpaid rent through July 31, 2020.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The lawsuit is just one of the many legal actions landlords are taking against tenants over rent.

At the beginning of the pandemic, property owners were seeking to defer rent payments but, having to contend with their own mortgage payments and other costs, they are increasingly filing suits to collect on unpaid rent. In Miami, for example, Brooklyn-based Thor Equities is seeking to evict luxury fashion retailer Stefano Ricci from its Design District store. In New York, Stahl Organization is suing Bloomingdale’s alleging it owes nearly $2.5 million on its outlet at 2085 Broadway.

Vornado is one of the largest landlords in New York, but like many retail owners it has taken some financial hits as a result of the pandemic. The REIT recorded a nearly $306 million impairment loss on its Fifth Avenue and Times Square retail joint venture it announced last July.

Elie Tahari founded the fashion brand that bore his name in 1974. Tahari himself bought a $3.25 million condo in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood in May, according to property records. He’s also looking to sell his Sagaponack mansion, last year slashing the home’s asking price to $39 million.