Ashkenazy could lose another retail property to foreclosure

Lender at 1400 Fifth Ave in Harlem seeks $17M in damages, claiming Ashkenazy defaulted in 2020

Ben Ashkenazy (Corcoran)
Ben Ashkenazy (Corcoran)

Ben Ashkenazy is facing another retail foreclosure.

A foreclosure suit initiated Tuesday alleges that Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. defaulted on its $12.3 million mortgage for the retail portion of 1400 Fifth Avenue, an eight-story condo building in Harlem.

A trustee for the loan’s bondholders alleges that Ashkenazy stopped making monthly mortgage payments in April 2020. Barclays originated the $12.3 million loan in September 2018, which was subsequently securitized and sold to investors.

The trustee claims that Ben Ashkenazy and Andrew Cohen, CEO of commercial real estate investor Cohen Commercial Properties, personally guaranteed the loan, according to the lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court.

The suit seeks $16.7 million in damages, which includes the principal balance, interest and other fees.

A separate lawsuit alleges that Ashkenazy failed to pay common expenses and assessments owed to the building’s condo board. The board in turn filed a lien against the property, which takes up the ground floor of the 129-unit condo building.

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Ashkenazy bought the space in 2014 for $12.5 million, property records show.

Founded by Ben Ashkenazy in 1987, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. is a major retail and office landlord in New York City, which once held a stake in the Plaza Hotel. It has acquired over 15 million square feet of real estate throughout the U.S. and Canada, according to its website.

But the company’s portfolio has shown signs of distress during the pandemic.
In October, SL Green Realty foreclosed on Ashkenazy’s 690 Madison Avenue, a five-story, mixed-use building anchored by the New York flagship store of luxury designer Hermès.

It also faced a foreclosure sale on its Union Station property in Washington, D.C., after allegedly failing to make payments on a $330 million mortgage at the beginning of the pandemic. That foreclosure sale was canceled in January, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Neither Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. nor the attorney representing the lender immediately responded to requests for comment.