Leviev Attempting to Shed Apthorp Building

Last week Africa Israel owner Lev Leviev motioned a New York court to rule him the sole owner of the Apthorp.

Continuing its quest for liquidity as troubled times continue, Africa Israel has placed the Apthorp Building on the sales block.

According to Web site The Real Deal, last week Africa Israel owner Lev Leviev motioned a New York court to rule him the sole owner of the Apthorp, located in Manhattan's Upper West Side, at the expense of partner Maurice Mann. Leviev wrote in his motion that the project's board of directors agreed to hire the services of CB Richard Ellis to sell the building for $552 million.

Mann has rejected proposals that the Apthorp project be sold. His legal representatives argue that shedding the building as a distressed project will make it impossible to sell the apartments there.

Africa Israel bought the Apthorp together with Mann Realty for $426 million in March 2007. They planned to invest $163 million in renovating the place and converting it into a residential tower with 163 luxury apartments.

But the real estate bust and ensuing recession ruined their plans and instead of selling apartments for handsome profits, the partners found themselves embroiled in financial and legal woes. Last autumn, banks that had lent them $528 million demanded $12 million back, and this January they are seeking $22.7 million more.

In mid-December Mann sued one of the financiers, Apollo Management, for $500 million, claiming it was evading its liabilities. He withdrew the suit that same day after reaching an arrangement with the company.

Later, Leviev sued to gain full control over the project management, arguing that Mann had lost his mind as project manager, and also that he'd allowed workers to live in empty apartments on the site.

The Wall Street Journal reported they've only sold one of the 163 apartments so far. The price of the apartments ranges from $3.45 million to $15.5 million.