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Naftali moves to demolish UWS building with holdout tenant

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Miki Naftali is ready to take a wrecking ball to an Upper West Side apartment building that he plans to convert to luxury condos. But the building’s lone holdout tenant says he isn’t going anywhere.

The Naftali Group this week filed demolition plans at 215 West 84th Street, which the developer intends to replace with a 16-story condo building, Crain’s reported.

The filing on its own does not indicate that Naftali has gotten any closer to removing penthouse tenant Ahmet Ozsu, whose eviction is the subject of ongoing litigation, but it could help speed things along if the developer ultimately succeeds in emptying the building.

Ozsu’s attorney, Adam Leitman Bailey, has accused Naftali of illegally pressuring his client to vacate the unit and in May said the City Council was investigating whether to place the building in an anti-harassment program, which would further stall the project.

Naftali has filed two lawsuits against the tenant, one seeking his eviction and another seeking $25 million in damages for delaying the project. The developer’s attorney, Y. David Scharf, has accused Bailey of abusing the legal system and the media “to force a cash payout” for Ozsu.

Ozsu’s counterclaims include the allegation that Naftali is trying to “terrorize” him and punish him for filing an emergency rental assistance application, which can shield a tenant from eviction for up to a year.

In court filings this week, Bailey claimed Naftali has tampered with Ozsu’s gas and hot water supply, cut off electricity in common areas and begun activating excruciatingly loud generators in the early-morning hours “to make [Ozsu’s] life as miserable as possible.”

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Ozsu’s month-to-month lease expired last year and he turned down a $30,000 offer to leave the market-rate unit, which he’s occupied since 2006, the New York Times reported in April. Naftali has claimed that Ozsu is seeking a seven-figure payday.

“The recent filing of a demolition permit represents our confidence that this frivolous claim will be resolved in our favor,” Scharf told Crain’s this week.

In May, Naftali filed permits for a 16-story mixed-use building at the site with 45 luxury condo across 155,000 square feet.

Naftali purchased the property a year ago for $70.3 million

— Holden Walter-Warner

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