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View Full Version : Mosque building owners nixed $18M offer before taking $4.8M one



PoliCon
09-05-2010, 07:12 PM
The original owners of the Ground Zero mosque site mysteriously spurned dozens of higher bids before selling the prime downtown real estate at a bargain-basement price.

The Pomerantz family, which had owned the building since the late 1960s and fielded offers after the patriarch died in 2006, rejected at least one bid that was nearly four times what prospective mosque builder Sharif El-Gamal eventually paid, The Post has learned.

El-Gamal did offer what could be viewed as a sweetener to his $4.8 million bid in July 2009 -- a job as a property manager for a son of the family, Sethian Pomerantz.

'TEARDROP' MAY FALL

New York developer Kevin Glodek was livid when he found out the building sold for a fraction of what he offered in 2007 -- $18 million cash -- and wondered whether money changed hands under the table, according to sources close to the deal.

Glodek and his partners wanted to build a 60-story condo tower with retail space on the Park Place site, had inked a purchase agreement and even had keys to the existing building, according to sources and documents obtained by The Post.

But Kukiko Mitani -- whose late husband, Stephen Pomerantz, owned the property -- and her brother-in-law, Melvin Pomerantz, a trustee to the estate, went silent at the end of 2007 and Glodek's deal disappeared, sources said.

Glodek, who owns the ChefsDiet food delivery service and several Manhattan properties, declined to comment.

The property is now at the heart of one of the most divisive issues in the country -- whether it should be the location of a $100 million mosque and community center. The location two blocks from Ground Zero has been called insensitive, and questions have been raised about whether extremists will help fund the project. Recent polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers want it moved.

El-Gamal had his eye on the property for years before buying it in 2009.

He was not alone in his interest, with some 30 offers showered on the Pomerantz family in what was an overheated downtown real-estate market in 2007, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Yet Mitani previously told The Post the building, a former Burlington Coat Factory store that was damaged in the 9/11 attacks, was a tough sell. She said she was in debt and desperate to unload it after her husband's death and insisted she had no buyers other than El-Gamal.

Some of the offers were a mere flash in the pan, but others were legitimate, including a $17 million cash deal from one developer, the source said.

The attraction in this hot market was buying real estate that could be demolished, the source said. A second downtown mosque, not affiliated with El-Gamal, considered spending $18 million for 45-47 Park Place in early 2008.

But the Pomerantz family -- for reasons that remain unclear -- rejected the offers.

They took 70 percent less from El-Gamal than what Glodek offered.

This was a considerable drop even given the 30 percent decline in market values at the time, said Michael Falsetta, executive vice president of Miller Cicero, a real-estate appraisal firm not involved in the deals.

"That makes us suspicious," he said.

According to Falsetta, property in the area hovered between $250 to $290 a square foot. El-Gamal purchased the 45-47 Park Place property for the rock-bottom price of just over $100 per square foot.

In addition to selling the building to El-Gamal, Mitani sold him the long-term lease for the property next door -- a former Con Edison substation -- for $700,000. The buildings had once been joined to create a store.

El-Gamal has told the utility he wants to buy the building, and appraisals to determine the sales price are under way.

Glodek was also negotiating with Con Ed before his deal fell apart, the source said. He had offered $12 million to buy out the lease and the property itself.

Neither Mitani nor El-Gamal responded to requests for comment.

Glodek is so outraged about the sale to El-Gamal that he'd double the $4.8 million price to get the property, sources said.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/mosque_was_steal_FpzwdRCdb5MdehzkDDWY3H