Deals clear for big Midtown building projects


Top-flight developers have landed control of two crucial properties they needed to build a pair of long-in-coming Midtown mega-projects.

Sheldon Solow finally booted Metropolitan Antiques, a convicted ivory seller, from 10 W. 57th St. Although his court battle with the shop was widely reported, Solow’s victory went unnoticed.

The store, hidden behind a sidewalk bridge, was cleared out — clearing the way for Solow to construct a 52-story tower combining a hotel, luxury condo apartments and stores.

The developer had paid $112 million for four adjacent buildings on the south side of West 57th Street’s south side, across the street from his iconic 9 W. 57th St. office tower and from an apartment tower he’s building at 7 W. 57th St.

He cleared the buildings of office and retail tenants including MacKenzie-Childs and Bliss Spa. But the antiques dealer, smack in the middle of the assemblage, stubbornly refused to budge.

The store pleaded guilty in 2017 to illegally selling $4.5 million in elephant ivory — giving Solow the right to terminate its lease. Metropolitan fought back in court. It said it would appeal a ruling to boot the store earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Steve Barnett’s Extell Development Co. bought four-story 32 W. 48th St., formerly home to the “Plaza Arcade” diamond mini-mall, for $40 million at the same time as it closed on title to several adjoining buildings and air rights of another. The purchases give Extell control of most of four adjacent properties on the block between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

The purchases totaled $85 million. Extell also inked a $63.8 million mortgage-spreader agreement with Bank of the Ozarks for six adjoining buildings — 25 and 27 W. 47th St. and 30, 32, 36 and 38 W. 48th St. No. 36 W. 48th, from which Extell bought air rights, is home to popular Szechuanese restaurant Wu Liang Ye.

Some pieces of the assemblage, including 32 W. 48th St., run through the block to the West 47th Street “diamond block.” Extell previously filed demolition plans for several of the West 47th Street buildings.

Barnett’s plans are unknown. He couldn’t immediately be reached.

Extell is working on new skyscrapers from the Upper West Side to downtown Brooklyn. Its most visible project is the “Nordstrom Tower,” aka Central Park Tower, rising to 1,550 feet at 225 W. 57th St.