In 1994, a little-known real estate investor, Gary Barnett, bought the
Belnord, a 1909 landmarked 12-story apartment building on the Upper West
Side of Manhattan,
bringing an end to one of the city’s longest and most acrimonious
tenant-landlord battles. He paid around $15 million and agreed to settle
a slew of pending lawsuits.
Mr. Barnett is now one of New York’s busiest developers, as the president of the Extell Development Company. He has spent tens of millions of dollars restoring and upgrading the long-neglected Belnord,
which occupies the entire block from 86th Street to 87th Street between
Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway and has 215 apartments. But like many
other landlords of New York residential buildings that are subject to
the city’s strict rent regulations, Mr. Barnett put more debt on the
Italian Renaissance-style Belnord than its rental income could support.
He stopped paying his sizable debt service on the Belnord in May and
could wind up walking away from it, a prospect that alarms longtime