Gramercy Throwdown: Aby Rosen and Ian Schrager Fight for the Front Desk
Developer and skyscraper collector Aby Rosen is known for his flare. The 81st most powerful man in local real estate is a connoisseur whose buildings are practically an extension of his extensive art collection — for every Warhol, Hering and Hirst, there is a Seagrams Building, a Lever House, a 40 Bond. He’s mixed it up with Tom Wolfe, Orthodox Jews and now his old pal Ian Schrager.
It would appear the caviar days are over for Mr. Rosen. Like many of the city’s real estate players, the recession has left him limping, and the Journal now reports that he is scrambling to maintain control of two of his marquee properties, the Gramercy Park Hotel and the exclusive Core Club in the East 50s.
According to the Journal, Mr. Rosen is working to push Mr. Schrager out of his stake in the Gramercy, while also buying back a $140 million loan at 65 cents on the dollar. Meanwhile, an $18 million loan for his exclusive social club, where membership costs $25,000 plus $1,000 per month, is in default and due to be auctioned off on Oct. 26, with no indication from Mr. Rosen if he will (or even could) get in on the deal.
All this bad news could actually be good, at least for those not involved. Having watched one high-profile developer after another (see: Macklowe, Solow, Speyer) lose their luster, these moves by Mr. Rosen suggest that banks and buyers may finally be seeing eye to eye. The Journal also points to the likely sale of Joe Moinian’s Downtown W, which he and son Matt have been struggling to hang on to, as a signal that the worst is over.
These latest deals are a sign that these efforts by Mr. Rosen and others are moving into the end game. Until recently, lenders generally have been reluctant to foreclose on property even after borrowers defaulted because values were scraping bottom and the lack of financing made it virtually impossible to sell. But now, a growing number of lenders holding debt on troubled projects are resorting to selling the debt to opportunistic investors.
At least Mr. Rosen has a consolation prize, having recently rented his East 94th Street manse, which had been languishing for some time. Monthly — monthly! — rents are predicted to be as high as six figures.