Naftali takes hit in battle with UWS holdout

Judge rules tenant can remain at new development pending rental assistance application

Miki Naftali with 215 West 84th Street
Miki Naftali with 215 West 84th Street (Getty, Corcoran)

Miki Naftali is not going to be happy with the latest twist in his Upper West Side condo battle.

A housing court judge ruled on Tuesday that Ahmet Oszu — the lone tenant holdout at Naftali’s project at 215 West 84th Street — can stay at his apartment. The allowance is pending Oszu’s application for emergency rental assistance, which allows a tenant to remain in place until a decision on the application is rendered.

Naftali argued that Ozsu is not a tenant because he was on a month-to-month lease, rendering him ineligible for ERAP. The developer also said it would not accept money recovered through the program because it wasn’t pursuing rent.

But the judge sided with the tenant, saying the month-to-month tenant is obligated to pay rent and therefore eligible for ERAP.

Naftali is stuck while the rental assistance application is pending. If it’s approved — a decision Ozsu’s attorney, Adam Leitman Bailey, said he fully expects — Naftali won’t be able to evict Ozsu until 12 months after the money is received.

This is a bump in Naftali’s vision for the development, as the developer reportedly filed plans last month to demolish the apartment building to make way for his 16-story luxury condo building.

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Leitman Bailey has accused Naftali of illegally pressuring his client to vacate the unit, including allegedly harassing Ozsu. The attorney said hot water has interfered with the tenant’s hot water and introduced noisy construction, despite a plan to knock down the building.

Naftali filed two lawsuits against the tenant, seeking both his eviction and $25 million in damages for delaying the project. Naftali’s attorney has accused Leitman Bailey of trying to force a cash payout for his client. Leitman Bailey said Ozsu was originally offered $30,000, then more, but hasn’t indicated what he would accept.

The developer has claimed Ozsu is looking for a seven-figure payday.

At stake is a mixed-use building at the site with 45 luxury condo units across 155,000 square feet. Naftali purchased the property last year for $70.3 million.

Holden Walter-Warner