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Practice Overview

Commercial Condominiums

Our Real Estate lawyers regularly create commercial fee and leasehold condominiums to help clients navigate a mixed use/mixed ownership building. The condominium structure has the advantage of creating separate tax lots for the property and providing easements and insurance regimes to permit the building to operate efficiently. Separate tax lots also permit nonprofit unit owners to benefit from a reduced tax burden.

We have extensive experience creating, managing and enforcing rights under New York commercial condominiums of ground-leased parcels.  These leasehold condominiums can be structured to permit nonprofit unit owners to gain a real property tax exemption under Section 420-a of New York's Real Property Tax Law ("RPTL"). We represented the ground lessor in the well known 2009 "Cornell" Letter Ruling  by New York City's Department of Finance.

Among the several commercial condominiums we have structured are the Tribeca Film Center, the Triangle Junction Retail Condominium and the Urban Glass House Commercial Unit.

We represented a New York college in the purchase of a new commercial unit constructed as part of a redevelopment project in the Bronx under the federal "New Markets" tax credit program.

We also are retained by residential mixed use (both condominium and cooperative) buildings as general counsel or as special counsel for unusual tax, condominium structure, litigation, sponsor defaults or issues.

  • Represented an industry leading cancer research institution in a long-term ground lease for a 7-story building to be constructed to suit the institution on a parcel located on the Upper East Side. We then created a leasehold condominium for the institution to permit them to obtain a tax exemption under Section 420-a of New York's Real Property Tax Law. Our client then cooperated with the landlord to permit a $130 million mortgage on the fee estate.
  • Negotiated the ground lease for the fee owner/ground lessor at 407 East 61 Street with Weill Cornell Medical Center including a provision permitting Cornell to convert its leasehold estate into a commercial condominium. Cornell entered into two subleases with itself and became the "declarant" under the declaration of condominium for the leasehold estate thereby qualifying the leasehold interest as equivalent to a fee interest under the City’s tax exemption applicable to not-for profits. This transaction was the transaction that led to the well-know “Cornell” letter ruling on which the real estate industry now relies for the Section 420-a tax exemption for not for profits. 
  • Olshan represented the purchaser of the iconic Mobil Building at 150 East 42nd Street, including securing a $700 million loan from Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings to complete their acquisition of the leasehold position. The deal included a 99-year ground lease extension with the land owner, purchasing the existing leasehold from Hiro Real Estate, and creating a sub-leasehold condominium to permit Mt. Sinai Medical Center to obtain Section 420-a tax exemption benefits.
  • Represented Metropolitan College of New York, a college founded in 1964 by educational pioneer Audrey Cohen, in the purchase of a commercial condominium to house its growing college programs within a $40 million development known as the Triangle Plaza Hub in the South Bronx . The construction and purchase of the condominium is being financed using New Markets Tax Credits.
  • Represented a group of legacy owners in a decades old resort cooperative where the sponsor was convicted of fraud and the unsold units were purchased by a new developer at auction including negotiation of a standstill agreement while additional units were sold.  Then, upon loss of board control by the new sponsor, we were retained to represent the cooperative and embarked on substantial negotiated amendments of the governing documents which were out of date and non-compliant with current law.
  • Often brought in as special counsel in representing boards with respect to parking garage leases or management agreements including 130 East 18th Street, 420 East 55th Street and 115 East 87th Street. Several of our lawyers have decades of experience in parking garage facilities.
  • Brought in as new counsel to the sponsor of a troubled East Harlem condominium and, after diligently working issues out over many months, we were retained by the non-sponsored controlled board which had grown to trust us to be a fair problem solver. 
  • Represented a large group of unit owners in negotiating and signing a unique easement for light and air with the developer of neighboring property who had not yet started to build.  The easement  involved significant compensation and protected sight lines and created terraces on setbacks in the new building that could be used by certain unit owners. 
  • Represented an individual board member at large midtown condominium with sponsor and construction issues. 
  • Won a significant voting rights summary judgment motion on behalf of unit owners where the incumbent board worked in cahoots with the building’s superintendent to cheat on annual meeting proxies. 
  • General counsel to numerous boards throughout the New York metropolitan area. 

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