$70M Condo Sale at 432 Park Ave is Priciest NYC Real Estate Deal This Year
Edited by: TJVNews.com
As the real estate industry in New York City continues to explode in the post-pandemic phase, Business Insider has reported that an apartment on the 82nd floor of 432 Park Avenue was sold last month for a whopping $70.5 million. The report indicated that in January of this year, the asking price for the luxury pad was $79 million. Property records indicate that the apartment was originally listed in 2020 for $90 million, as was reported by Business Insider.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the buyers in the deal already own a condo on a lower floor of the 85-floor skyscraper at 57th Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The buyers of the approximately 10,000-square-foot condo are Yossi Benchetrit, who is the chief procurement and programming officer at the cable television company Altice USA, and his wife Gaëlle Pereira Benchetrit, who is the founder and owner of the cosmetics clinic Clinique des Champs Elysées New York. The couple already owned a four-bedroom, 4,500 square foot condo at the posh address, which they purchased in 2016 for $23.87 million.
The deal, which has not yet closed, is being called the most pricy residential sale in New York City thus far in 2022. It is also one of the biggest deals since the pandemic hit in March 2020. The seller in the transaction, as per a source for the WSJ, is a limited partnership named Blessings Investments, which is said to be connected to Meeta Patel, the British Pharmaceutical millionaire. Ms. Patel and her brother, Amit Patel, made their name and their money running British generic pharmaceutical company, Auden Mckenzie. The siblings sold the company to Actavis PLC for some $459 million in 2015. The seller in the transaction is being represented by Ryan Stenta at Douglas Elliman and Carrie Chiang of the Corcoran Group. The buyer is represented by Jason Haber of Compass.
Although 432 Park stands at 96 floors and is considered one of the most luxurious residential towers in the entire world, this building has been plagued with multiple structural problems and other issues that apartment owners are miffed about.
The Jewish Voice previously reported that the building was developed by CIM Group along with real estate mover and shaker Harry B. Macklowe and designed by Rafael Vinoly. The residential skyscraper at 56th Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan that is known as 432 Park Avenue is not only the third-tallest residential building in the world but has exquisite views of the city. It is home to the wealthy and famous but unfortunately, as with most unique real estate ventures, there is an unseemly dark side to this Billionaires’ Row tower.
432 Park Avenue is located on the site of the former Drake Hotel, which was sold to Macklowe in 2006. The project faced delays for five years because of lack of financing as well as difficulties in acquiring the properties on the site. Construction plans were approved for 432 Park Avenue in 2011 and excavations began the next year. Sales within 432 Park Avenue were launched in 2013; the building topped out during October 2014 and was officially completed in 2015. The tower is segmented into 12-story blocks separated by open double-story mechanical spaces that allow wind gusts to pass through the building.
According to a February 2021 report on the SurfaceMag.com web site, author Ryan Waddoups has said that residents at 432 Park Ave have more than enough to contend with as they are at loggerheads with the developers of the building due to “millions of dollars worth of water damage from mechanical and plumbing issues, frequent elevator malfunctions, and unbearably creaky walls when the building shimmies during high winds.”
Having sustained several floods, Waddoups informs his readers of one in particular that resulted in an estimated $500,000 in property damage to a $17 million high floor pad purchased by a one Sarina Abramovich and her husband. He writes that this was caused by a “blown” flange and a “water line failure” that caused water to enter elevator shafts, removing two of the building’s four residential elevators from service for weeks.” One can only imagine what kind of inconvenience that this caused.
The New York Times reported that Abramovich said “I was convinced it would be the best building in New York. They’re still billing it as God’s gift to the world, and it’s not.” Abramovich and her husband, Mikhail, retired business owners who worked in the oil and gas business, bought a high-floor, 3,500-square-foot apartment at the tower for nearly $17 million in 2016, to have a secondary home near their adult children, as was reported by the Times.
In a February 3, 2021 report on TheCut.com web site, author Amanda Arnold writes of the building’s elevator malfunctions. “Residents say they suffer frequent malfunctions; in one particularly horrifying incident in October 2019, “a high-wind condition” caused one person to be “entrapped” in an elevator for nearly an hour and a half, per a management email. Apparently, in a building this tall, wind-related elevator issues are not uncommon; neither is unsettling noise, of which residents also complain.”
According to an engineer who spoke to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity, wind sway can cause the cables in the elevator shaft to slap around and lead to slowdowns or shutdowns. His knowledge stems from his experience working on other towers in New York with similar issues.
Quoting the Times report, Waddoups adds that back in 2016, an anonymous unit buyer discovered grounds on which to get out of a 2016 deal to buy an 84th floor apartment by citing a “catastrophic waterflood” that caused major damage to the 83rd to 86th floors. The person who was to have bought the 84th floor apartment was already in contract and was going to plunk down a staggering $46.25 million for the luxury pad. According to sources familiar with the lawsuit, the buyer was a member of the Beckmann family, the owners of the Jose Cuervo tequila brand. The suit was quietly settled the following year.
The SurfaceMag.com report also indicated that due to water related problems in 2018, insurance costs increased by 300 percent and that there were $9.7 million in covered losses.
Among other legitimate complaints about 432 Park from its residents include the buildings creaky walls which according to the report produced by Waddoups sounds like the galley of ship. If that weren’t enough to cause more than a bit of anxiety, he also reported that the sounds of garbage bags going down a communal chute are reminiscent of that of a bomb going off.
Waddoups also reports that in addition to residential service charges having been significantly increased which resulted in apartment owners being most definitely irked. They are particularly annoyed at the fact that they received an enormous increase in the service fee for 432 Park’s private restaurant. According to the report, it is helmed by Michelin-star chef Shaun Hergatt. When the restaurant made its debut in 2015, apartment owners were required to shell out $1200 annually for the service. By 2021, the fee ballooned to $15,000 even though pandemic mandates called for significantly reduced hours.
He also writes that Mrs. Abramovich told him that the worst part of living there was the fact that “everybody hates each other here.” She intoned that things in general were not on the level as she stated, “Everything here was camouflage.” The report also indicated that Mrs. Abramovich is now facing $82,000 in late fees and interest for refusing to cover recent increases in common charges.
The report on TheCut.com web site corroborates the aforementioned information by writing of 432 Park: “What was once believed to be a literal pinnacle of high living has turned out to be the most wretched of hellholes: The $3.1 billion building is falling apart, largely due to its unreasonable height and design flaws. And its billionaire residents — who are butting heads not only with developers but with one another — are dismayed.”
Waddoups writes that, “432 Park’s developers also exploited a planning law loophole by filling a quarter of its floors with structural and mechanical equipment, which normally wouldn’t count towards maximum height.”
Because of its gargantuan height, serious problems have arisen at 432 Park and the building’s critics raise some very cogent points as it pertains to safety concerns.
Speaking to the Guardian newspaper of the UK, Sean Khorsandi, executive director of preservation group Landmark West! said, “We’ve been following the safety concerns of supertalls for a long time. I was in architecture school on 9/11. We watched the towers fall. There were all sorts of symposiums and public statements that we’re never going to build that tall again. All we’ve done in the 20 years since is build even taller.”