Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Madison Park: The only good news is that it's not falling over.

In case you didn't know, the very tall tower that looks like a stack of glass blocks at the foot of Madison Square Park is a condominium of some 69 units.

Twelve are inhabited by people who come and go--and have been coming and going for quite some time--through a makeshift entrance for construction workers on 23rd Street. The construction workers, however, are absent. The rest of the units are empty.

The project, with smallish apartments (most are less than 2000 square feet, although they were also offered as combinations) was intended to house the creme de la creme of downtown celebrity, along with anyone else who could afford the prices, which averaged out at more than $2,500 per square foot.

Los Angeles's Creative Artists Agency, the firm representing John Cleese, Holly Hunter and Donald Trump among many other boldface types, was an early partner. A screening room was planned for the use of the occupants, who would presumably watch themselves and each other in it.

That didn't happen. Instead, the project was slammed hard by the September 2008 crash plus a storm of litigation, foreclosure, receivership, and now bankruptcy.

A few months ago, on behalf of a customer, I spoke to Cary Tamarkin, the architect who has been charged with completing the project. I asked him when the apartments were likely to come back on the market.

"Not any time soon," was his reply., a trade publication, reported a week ago that HFZ Group principal Ziel Feldman has presented a final rescue plan.

"Feldman, who has been working for months behind the scenes to help move the project through bankruptcy, submitted a winning bid that would pay about $165 million to get the project out of bankruptcy court and would need at least $40 million to complete constructioon of the luxury tower, located at 23 East 22nd Street in the Flatiron area, according to sources familiar with the discussions," therealdeal said.

"Lawyers representing various parties in the case are awaiting formal submission of the plan, which would have to satisfy both the interests of the secured lenders that hold debt secured by the condominium and unsecured creditors that are owed millions in unpaid loans, contracts and other expenses."

To be continued. And continued. And continued.

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