With a legendary tenants’ rights lawyer on board, a longtime leaseholder is standing fast against a developer’s ‘dream tower’ plans, claiming their business has a valid lease and is being wrongfully evicted, according to the New York Times. Irving and Samuel Morano, the antiques dealers who own Metropolitan Fine Arts and Antiques, are the largest remaining tenant at 10 West 57th Street, a prime location opposite Bergdorf Goodman. 89-year-old developer Sheldon Solow has been amassing properties along the “Billionaire’s Row” strip, where the Solow Building, his office tower at 9 West 57th Street stands, since 1977. With grand plans in place to erect a sleek Skidmore Owings & Merrill-designed 54-story hotel and condominium tower, Solow has evicted tenants, erected scaffolding and started demolition on one of the properties along the strip.
The Solow Building at 9 West 57th Street.
But the owners of Metropolitan claim their lease is still valid and they have no plans to vacate, and they’ve hired famous tenant advocate David Rozenholc to help make their case. Rozenholc famously stood up to Donald J. Trump in the 1980s when he attempted to evict tenants at 100 Central Park South to build a condominium tower, and got a $25 million payout for tenants who were being forced to vacate an apartment building on the far west side where a developer plans to build a soaring office tower.
Solow’s company served the tenants with a lease terminaion notice in early June. The two sides will head to the State Supreme Court on Thursday. Rozenholc claims the developer had scaffolding built in the dead of night to discourage customers from entering the store; Solow claims the shop has violated lease terms on technical grounds, citing lawsuits by disgruntled customers and legal action taken against the store’s owners for the sale of ivory–though he has not hesitated to cash the tenant’s $283,000 monthly rent checks.
Solow has a reputation for being stubborn and litiguous, with hundreds of lawsuits against adversaries large and small under his belt. The octogenarian developer, whose son Stefan has recently gotten involved in the business, currently has four projects in development. His office tower at 9 West 57th boasts some of the highest rents in the city, which is probably the reason it is 30 percent vacant, holding out for companies willing to fork over the $200 per square foot asking rent.
Next door, Solow has begun work on a 19-story residence that will be topped by a duplex with the Central Park views for which the pricey condo alley is known. Other properties in the works for the developer include a 42-story black glass residential tower by starchitect Richard Meier at 685 First Avenue in Turtle Bay; he’s also seeking tenants for a biotech building he’s planning for land on the east side of First Avenue between 38th and 41st Streets that has been unused for a decade.
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Neighborhoods : Midtown West