The Daily Dirt: New chapter for the leaning tower

Who wants the leaning Seaport tower? 

The unfinished tower at 161 Maiden Lane got a bit closer to the auction block Thursday, when Judge Barry Ostrager ruled in favor of Valley Bank’s motion to foreclose on its $120 million loan attached to the project.

Developer Fortis Property Group, on the short side of Ostrager’s ruling, said it is “evaluating all options.” The decision does allow certain counterclaims made by Fortis to be consolidated with a separate lawsuit accusing Valley of violating their loan agreement. The developer may be entitled to monetary damages.

The decision is “the culmination of three years of voluminous testimonial and documentary discovery, motion practice, and appeals which has generated 1,714 docket entries in this case and the related” lawsuit filed by Fortis, Ostrager stated.

The judge also reminded the parties how grumpy he is to be dealing with this case on the cusp of his retirement.

It is a long and complicated case, and the saga of the troubled project is far from over. Construction contractors are still trying to recoup millions of dollars in unpaid wages, there’s a deca-million-dollar surety bond at issue, and, of course, there’s the question of the tower’s three-inch lean. It’s no Millennium Tower, but whoever takes over the project will need to contend with the misalignment, and the fact that the tower has been exposed to the elements for three years.

The judge again urged the bank and Fortis to work something out, rather than finalize a foreclosure. The parties have tried and failed to reach a solution through mediation.

What we’re thinking about: What do you think will happen with Fortis’ project? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned: Trepp estimates that $351.8 billion in multifamily bank loans will mature between 2023 and 2027, based on the Fed Flow of Funds data. Thank you to Erik Engquist for passing this along!

Elsewhere in New York…

— To cope with budget cuts, the NYPD is freezing hiring and expects head count to drop below 30,000 in 2025, the lowest number in decades, Gothamist reports. The city’s Department of Education is set to lose $547 million this fiscal year and $600 million in 2025.

— A state appeals court judge has paused a gag order that prohibited former President Donald Trump from speaking about Justice Arthur Engoron’s staff, Politico New York reports. Attorneys for Trump had filed a lawsuit against Engoron over the order, saying it infringed on free speech. On Thursday, Associate Justice David Friedman of the Appellate Division, First Department, cited “the constitutional and statutory rights at issue” as the reason for granting an interim stay.

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential closing Thursday was $20.5 million for a co-op at 115 Central Park West.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $10.2 million for a 74-unit apartment building at 788 Riverside Drive in Washington Heights.

New to the Market: The priciest residence to hit the market Thursday was a townhouse at 161 East 74th Street in Lenox Hill asking $11.5 million. Sotheby’s International has the listing.

Breaking Ground: The largest new building filing of the day was for a 4,000-square-foot, three-story residential building at 1535 Rosedale Avenue, the Bronx. Node Architecture filed the permit application. — Jay Young 

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