Two Holdout Tenants In Grimy NYC Building Score $25 Million Payday To Vacate Premises So That Major Redevelopment Plan Can Move Forward
- Two tenants in a grimy four-story building on a desolate stretch of 10th Avenue in Manhattan scored a $25 million payout — after stalling part of the Hudson Yards redevelopment project by refusing to vacate.
The men lived together at 10th and West 34th Street, on a rundown corner that had been slated for redevelopment by real estate giant Tishman Speyer.
The developer had bought the property and its surroundings for $438 million as part of a $20 billion redevelopment plan to create some 17 million square feet of new residential and commercial space west of 10th Avenue from 23rd to 42nd streets.
But the developer couldn’t proceed with its big plans until the pair moved, and they refused to budge. Tishman actually won in court, but it still caved.
The men’s lawyer, David Rozenholc, is infamous for tying up cases on appeal, so Tishman offered the men a multimillion-dollar settlement to avoid a prolonged battle, Crain’s New York Business reported.
Court papers identify the tenants as Gary Schwedock, 58, and Steven Kobrick, 36.
They now reside on the top floor of Riverbank West, a 44-story doorman building at 560 W. 43rd St. with concierge service, a pool and roof deck.
“As you can imagine, we’re bound by contractual agreement not to speak about the matter. My hands are tied. I’m very sorry,” Schwedock said when contacted by The Post at their home Monday.
Rozenholc, 69, did not return a message seeking comment.
But he told Crain’s that Tishman was right to assume he would continue to fight.
“I would have taken the next step and come up with another argument. “[Even] if [the developer] wins every step of the way, it will take them five years,” he said.
“In all the years I have been doing this, this is the most intense period of development, and real estate values are just continuing to go up. I will have deals like that this year — yes, sir,” the lawyer boasted.
Ben Shaoul, a major residential developer, called Rozenholc “the most feared tenant attorney with respect to development sites.” “I don’t think he has ever lost a case,” he told Crain’s.(1)
A rep for Tishman Speyer declined to comment to The Post about the settlement.
(1) For more on reputedly the most feared tenant's attorney in New York City, see Meet the lawyer who has become the most feared tenant attorney in New York. David Rozenholc is only getting started (Developer pays two tenants $25 million to vacate their apartments).
- Tishman Speyer made the prudent choice. It settled—and in the process made one of the biggest payouts ever to tenants who refused to give up their apartments. Of course, the two holdouts didn’t get all the money. Their attorney, David Rozenholc, walked away with a third of the sum.
Although the $25 million settlement was just an unknown footnote in a much bigger real estate transaction, it shows how lawyers are able to use the state’s court system to extract multimillion-dollar paydays for tenants who block development.
Mr. Rozenholc, who has spent the past 40 years defending renters and negotiating huge settlements for them, is widely regarded as the king of this area of law.