Pier 40 board member Mike Novogratz sells adjacent St John’s complex

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Lampert Ackman NovogratzUpdate August 25, 2015- In a humbling venture into real estate, away from his comfort zone of equities, Master of the Universe Mike Novogratz has sold out.

Commercial Observer reports, “Westbrook Partners paid more than $200 million to buy out a partner, Fortress Investment Group, to take a controlling ownership stake in St. John’s Terminal, a 1.1 million-square-foot office property at 550 Washington St. The deal values the four-story, three-block-long building at about $650 million.”

Mr. Novogratz needs the cash. His Fortress funds are not doing so well.

Meanwhile, fellow Master of the Universe, Bill Ackman, is not doing too well with his real estate efforts at the Seaport via his Howard Hughes company. Also, hedge funder Eddie Lampert bought Sears and Kmart for the real estate and could not turn them around either.

February 26, 2013 By Steven E. Greer, MD

For people in Tribeca living near The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) and its Pier 40, the recent news of a proposed Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) has been of great interest since it would create a new tax burden for them. Unlike the Battery Park City Authority, which funds the associated Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, the HRPT has no such real-estate-tax-cash-cow. Thus, Pier 40 is in decrepit condition.

The fundraising arm of the HRPT is the Friends of Hudson River Park, Chaired my hedge fund mogul and billionaire Michael Novogratz. Mr. Novogratz is a senior executive at Fortress Investment Group.

Last month, it was reported in The New York Post that Fortress purchased the controlling equity share of the sprawling three-block-long St. John’s Center.

The building is directly across the West Side Highway from Pier 40, and one of the HRPT’s ideas to raise cash for the park has been to sell the lucrative air rights of Pier 40 to the St. John’s building. The NY Times recently reported that air rights are “the new currency” in Manhattan. One building can sell the rights to build upward to an adjacent building, which can also use those rights to prevent any blockage of prime views.

When asked by a reporter whether a conflict of interest arose by Mr. Novogratz both serving on the HRPT fundraising board, which is proposing a sale of the air rights to St. John’s, while also serving as a senior executive of Fortress, the company that owns St. John’s Center, he and Madelyn Wils, “shared a laugh, saying that he didn’t even know about the connection until Wils notified him about a news article she read.”

DowntownTV has requested an interview with Ms. Wils and Mr. Novogratz. The HRPT media relations person is trying to arrange for it to happen.

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