Developer Buys Lehmann Maupin Building for $24.7 Million

Savanna, a real estate fund based in midtown Manhattan, has just closed a deal for the acquisition and redevelopment of 540 West 26th Street, the site of Chelsea gallery Lehmann Maupin for $24.7 million, according to the Real Deal. But in August, Lehmann Maupin filed suit against the landlord for illegal eviction, which will likely hold up the construction. Savanna has reportedly been working for more than a decade with the site’s previous owner, the Silvermintz family, to redevelop the site.

Savanna and Silvermintz intend to demolish the two-story building currently at the site and build a 160,000-square-foot development that will house offices, community space, and 29,000 square feet of gallery space.

The $10 million suit, filed against 293 Tenth Ave. Corp (which is run by Michael Silvermintz) on August 26 in New York Supreme Court, claims the landlord didn’t furnish the proper demolition permit from the Department of Buildings and was interfering with gallery operations, according to the Commercial Observer. The lease of the gallery is up in October 2016.

In October 2013, 293 Tenth Ave. Corp sent a notice of termination to Lehmann Maupin stating that it “intends to demolish the entire building,” and set the vacate date of April 30, 2014. But Lehmann Maupin argued that along with the notice the owners needed to provide a valid demolition permit. Since that time, per the suit, the landlord has “engaged in a systematic pattern of conduct that unreasonably interferes with and obstructs plaintiff’s use and occupancy of the subject premises.”

Silvermintz’s lawyers denied the charges, asserting they provided appropriate notice to the gallery and that the demolition notice can’t be given unless the tenant vacates the space. Two other gallery tenants in the building, Tony Shafrazi and Stephen Haller Gallery, have already moved out.

Lehmann Maupin also claimed it suffered “grave and irreparable harm” when the owners installed a sidewalk shed in front of the gallery that was 112 feet tall without giving the requisite notice and posting an asbestos notification next to the gallery when it had no right to “asbestos abatement” before the expiration of the lease.

The price paid for the site is roughly $190 per square foot, according to the Real Deal, which, is reportedly “less than half” of what other development sites have cost.

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