By CRAIG KARMIN
Neil Bender, heir to the William Gottlieb real-estate empire in Manhattan, is selling two downtown buildings, a rare break with his family's decades-old opposition to letting go of property.
The estate is asking $8.5 million for a 19th-century townhouse at 79 Horatio St. The white-brick building is in a coveted meatpacking district location, near the West Village and the High Line. The building is in poor condition and would likely be condemned and require a gut renovation, according to people familiar with the property.
The second building is in the East Village, at 104 East 10th St., with an asking price of $6 million. Both buildings were listed a week ago by Halstead Property.
Mr. Bender runs the estate of his uncle William Gottlieb, who started buying swaths of property in the 1950s. By the time of his death in 1999, he had accumulated more than 100 buildings in downtown Manhattan that some brokers have estimated would be valued at $1 billion.
The Gottlieb estate purchased the Horatio townhouse in 2008 for $7.4 million after Mr. Bender had a falling out with the co-owner of the building, Vicky Gabay.
Mr. Gottlieb was famous for his "buy-and-hold" mentality, scooping up tenement buildings that were often run down and rarely parting with any of them.
"This is completely counter to William Gottlieb's philosophy," says Kevin Smith, an attorney with Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, who represented Ms. Gabay when the Gottlieb estate bought out her share of the Horatio building at a public sale. "Selling properties like these at a time when the market has not yet come back looks like Neil Bender is trying to raise cash."
In a statement, Mr. Bender's spokeswoman, Lin-Hua Wu, said: "William Gottlieb Real Estate has long-contemplated the sale of these properties and is doing so now to take advantage of the uptick in the market.
The Gottlieb family has been feuding over the rights to the property empire for years. Last month, Mr. Bender won a victory over his sister Cheryl Dier, who alleged that he was unfit to run the estate's portfolio. A New York appellate court upheld a surrogate court ruling that Mr. Bender and his father could manage the estate.
Monday, June 07, 2010