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Naftali Group Spends $23M on Gramercy Property

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Larry King joined Miki Naftali at the grand opening of the Carlyle on Wilshire, which he worked on during his time as CEO of Elad Properties. King was one of many celebrities to buy a unit in the building.

Larry King joined Miki Naftali at the grand opening of the Carlyle on Wilshire, which he worked on during his time as CEO of Elad Properties. King was one of many celebrities to buy a unit in the building.

Larry King joined Miki Naftali at the grand opening of the Carlyle on Wilshire, which he worked on during his time as CEO of Elad Properties. King was one of many celebrities to buy a unit in the building.

The Naftali Group has just paid over $23.13 million for a residential development site in Gramercy that it plans to develop into a 20-story condo tower, according to the New York Post.

Stribling Marketing Associates will be in charge of sales and marketing, and architecture firm Goldstein Hill and West is set to design the building, The Real Deal reports.

Company CEO Miki Naftali also bought two adjoining four-story tenement buildings on an 86,000-square-foot site at 234-238 East 23rd Street, between Second and Third avenues. The project will feature 62 units, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, as well as a gym and a rooftop terrace-lounge. The going rate for each apartment has not yet been disclosed.

According to the Post, Naftali said his company’s new site “was a complicated deal because we had to buy the buildings from two different owners.”

And since New York real estate is all about location, its doesn’t hurt that the site is home to various educational institutions, including the School of Visual Arts and PS 47, the New York City Opera Thrift Shop, a number of gourmet delis, hairstylists and a New York Public Library branch.

The Man Behind the Real Estate

Upon leaving his position as CEO of Elad Properties in mid-2011, Naftali formed the Naftali Group, which is so far involved in ten projects in both Brooklyn and Manhattan — comprising of more than 650 residential apartments.

Still, most New Yorkers remember him for his most controversial project at the Plaza. As reported by various media sources, Elad purchased the historical hotel with the intention of converting it to condominiums.

But when the company tried to fire the Plaza’s 900 employees, the plan backfired and caused friction with the hotel workers’ union. And so the “Save the Plaza” campaign was born, and celebrities like Matthew Broderick and Liza Minnelli got involved.

Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced publicly that he would help the workers keep their jobs. Eventually, Elad backtracked on its plans, limiting the number of condos to 180 and keeping 282 hotel rooms.

When asked by TRD if he felt like the scapegoat of the whole Plaza ordeal, Naftali said, “I don’t know if it is unfair. When you are in the position where … everyone sees you as the one who makes each and every decision, you have to be open to be criticized. … The reality is you’re not making all the decisions; you’re not making all the decisions that relate to design, for example. But that’s okay; that’s part of being involved.”

He also added that, “at Elad I did a lot of things that were not really part of what I like to do,” versus now at the Naftali Group, where he is able to focus on what he loves doing most: development.

“I’m very passionate about developing things, working with the team, creating a vision and getting it done,” he told TRD. “When you have such a big organization, there are so many other things that you need to deal with that are not necessarily related to the development side. That’s why it’s great here. At the end of the day, what we do is what we really like to do.”

And unlike his previous place of employment, to keep it that way, he’d like to keep the Naftali Group small: “I have no vision right now to have 200 people here. It would be too big and complicated, and political. Who needs it?”

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