The Real Deal reveal that Savills Studley’s David Carlos and Ira Schuman managed to sell an Upper West Side Jewish congregation’s home to Extell Development and C&C Alpha Group’s Megalith Capital Management for $45 million in December – a deal which is now one of 19 submissions nominated for the Real Estate Board of New York’s 2014 “Most Ingenious Deal of the Year” award.
For at least 15 years, Habonim had sought a real estate solution. But when a potential 2007 deal to sell the property to Walt Disney Company — which owned most of the remainder of the block — fell apart, Mickey Mouse was miffed.
With that in mind, Carlos flew out to California in 2012 to mend the fences. He managed to broker a peace treaty between the two parties, after which he and Schuman started running through a list of options, ranging from a property swap to pursuing a joint venture. By late 2013, Studley and Habonim had decided that the best course of action was to partner with a developer who would build on both the congregation and Disney’s sites. “When we took the property to market, we held regular meetings with Disney to keep them abreast of the progression,” the submission reads. “But Disney’s real estate team made it quite clear: IF it was going to sell its properties, it would hold its own process, and it wasn’t necessarily going to cooperate with us. We wanted to sell our site to the most cooperative developer, yet highest bidder. Disney only cared about price—and it was quite possible the two parties wouldn’t be the same.”
The brokers contacted 800 developers, and 29 came back with offers. Both the congregation and Disney ultimately chose Megalith and Gary Barnett’s Extell, who were amenable to building a home for the synagogue through a buyback along with a luxury development.