SL Green, Joe Moinian’s BFF
Matt Chaban Aug. 15, 2011, 11:27 a.m.
Joseph Moinian’s kingdom was assembled in a flurry of activity over the past decade, like a conquering warlord besieging New York City, overtaking some of the most valuable commercial properties. But like Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte, he overextended the empire, imperiling much of it when the recession hit. Yet thanks to an unlikely savior in SL Green, Mr. Moinian has managed to hold on to many of his most prized possessions, as The Journal explains today. Yet as with any lord and vassal, this arrangement come at a price. (Excuse the extended medieval metaphor—The Observer picked it up from The Journal.)
In the turbulent jungle of New York commercial real estate there are vultures and there are white knights.
For Joseph Moinian, the rags-to-riches developer who has battled to hold onto his empire, Stephen Green has mostly fallen into the savior category. Twice now, Mr. Green’s company, SL Green Realty Corp., has ridden to the rescue of Mr. Moinian as he has worked out investments he made during the boom.
During the go-go years, he was one of the most active investors in the city. But after the crunch hit, he faced numerous headaches as the value of many of his properties fell below their debt levels. Mr. Moinian has surprised many by his success at holding onto most of his buildings.
But this was partly due to the help he got from SL Green. The relationship between the two companies goes back at least a decade, when SL Green sold the Moinian Group properties such as 50 W. 23rd St. and 17 Battery Place.
In addition to saving Mr. Moinian at 3 Columbus Circle, the tentacular SL Green has now come to the rescue at 180 Maiden Lane, where the firm is helping to restructure $292 million in debt. But Mr. Moinan loses control of the castle, too, as SL Green will now take an ownership stake. SL Green is also prepared to lend a hand, perhaps a heavy one, at 17 Battery Place.
“The first person that I spoke to about the partnership was SL Green and the last person I spoke to was also SL Green and nobody in between,” Mr. Moinian told The Journal. It’s better than dealing with the barbarians—Steve Ross, recalcitrant banks, special servicers—at the glass and steel gates.