By Al Barbarino
After reclaiming 225 Rector Place from corrupt real estate developer Yair Levy, Related Companies is re-launching the Battery Park property as a luxury condo building with the help of acclaimed hospitality designer Clodagh.
Related, which sold the property to Levy in 2005, bought it back in January of 2011 for $82.8 million after the property fell into receivership and Levy was charged with defrauding apartment owners in the building and not completing renovations.
Related went well beyond making the necessary renovations, bringing in Clodagh to create a unique array of “resort-style amenities” with a modern Zen feel, and giving existing residents more than they expected, said Sherry Tobak, senior vice president of sales at Related and director of sales at the building.
“When Related came in, it was almost like a knight in shining armor who saved the day, saved the building and gave these buyers, who have been patiently waiting, all that they’ve been waiting for and more,” Tobak said.
The property now features a 40-foot swimming pool with oversized skylights, a steam room, fitness center, yoga studio and children’s playroom; there’s a landscaped rooftop retreat, with two outdoor terrace lounges, and a dining area with grill and cabana, featuring views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
The building features 181 remaining condos, including studios and one to three-bedroom residences, ranging from 576 to 1,522 s/f. A set of 12 penthouses that max out at 1,963 s/f will hit the market this fall. Prices range from $495,000 to approximately $2.2 million.
“We’re offering a tremendous value that you can’t really find in Battery Park right now,” Tobak said. “The truth is in the pudding. We’re selling like hotcakes.”
Related originally developed the property for apartment rentals in 1986. Levy converted the units to condos and sold 72 units before Related bought the remaining units last year.
Levy – who famously served two days of community service for hurling an ice bucket at former partner and fellow developer Kent Swig during a business meeting – ran into serious financial trouble as the recession unfolded and was sued by condo owners in February 2009 for failing to complete construction on the building.
“He began renovating it and worked on it for about 2 years then stopped,” Tobak said. “Although there was a finished product, there wasn’t a luxury product. It wasn’t all that he had promised.”
Levy’s YL Real Estate defaulted on $165 million in mortgage loans in 2010 and the property fell into receivership after Anglo Irish Bank, one of the original lenders, foreclosed on the property. Related bought the foreclosure bid from the Irish bank.
Clodagh’s other projects include Miraval Resort & Spa in Arizona, the W Fort Lauderdale hotel and Related’s condo tower on Manhattan’s High Line, which sold out in 2007 before construction was completed in 2008.
Alicia Goldstein, senior vice president of Related Companies, called the design “thoughtful and contemporary,” adding that the property is “a rare ownership opportunity in the epicenter of the New Downtown” for potential buyers.
Interiors are inspired by the scenes, shapes and sounds of the surrounding parks, waterfront and neighborhoods – beginning with a bright lobby featuring rich quarried stone and dark finished woods.
Residences are available in two collections: the Metropolitan Collection, which incorporates polished stone, hand-finished wood, stainless steel kitchen appliances, and bathrooms with Himalayan silk stone flooring, fully-clad walls, and white porcelain tubs; and Signature Collection, featuring dark oak wood floors in island kitchens and pewter limestone in the baths.
The property is tucked between Battery Park City’s waterfront parks, close to neighborhood restaurants like PJ Clarke’s, Gigino Wagner Park and Shake Shack; biking and jogging along The Esplanade; fitness and sports programs at the soon-to-be-opened Asphalt Green; and gourmet shopping at Battery Place Market.
With the emergence of the new World Trade Center complex, the neighborhood will soon have a new transportation hub, 550,000 additional s/f of retail space and a performing arts center designed by architect Frank Gehry.
As for Levy, he was ultimately found guilty in May of 2011 of scamming owners and using the condominium’s reserve fund for personal expenses. He used the fund, which was supposed to go towards capital improvements on the building, to pay off credit card expenses and his car lease.
He is forever banned – by the Supreme Court of New York – from the state’s real estate market.