At The Sheffield: Is the Crazy Over?

Sheffield57, the mammoth condo conversion in midtown, has completed sales of over 40 percent of its units, according to its developer Kent Swig. Closings have begun and owners have been moving into the 570 condos.

It's been a long and winding road for Sheffield57 and Mr. Swig. He and his partners bought the rental building in 2005 for $418 million. Doubts soon surfaced that the planned conversion of the more than 800 rental units into a lot fewer condos was too ambitious given the supposedly slowing sales market and the Sheffield's location in commercial-heavy midtown (it's right next to the new Hearst Tower). Then, once the conversion got under way in earnest, 23 market-rate tenants sued Mr. Swig and won in March, allowing them to continue living in the building even though their leases have run out. At the same time, some of the Sheffield's rent-stabilized tenants organized against Mr. Swig, citing safety concerns stemming from the renovations in the building. City inspectors in April found that the ceiling coating in the Sheffield contained asbestos and ordered a halt to any work on the ceiling until an abatement plan could be implemented.

"The trace amounts are way under the legal limit," Mr. Swig told The Observer's Matthew Schuerman in April.

Nonetheless, Mr. Swig was ordered to hire an asbestos-licensed firm to clean the building's common areas and to use a licensed abatement firm to continue work on the ceilings. He also agreed to offer the current tenants air-monitoring tests and cleaning services inside their apartments.

Then, of course, there was the marching band incident. As tenants rallied with City Council Member Gale Brewer outside the building, Mr. Swig apparently sent by a marching band to drown them out.

Whoever said real estate here was subtle?