The Mogul, Lost and Found: Developer Shaya Boymelgreen in the City of Second Acts

Mr. Boymelgreen initially told Aristone that because he owed so many people so much money, he could only repay a portion of the original $3.8 million loan, according to court papers. “Mr. Boymelgreen stated that Boymelgreen Family purportedly only had around $100,000.00 in its account,” reads the suit. “Mr. Boymelgreen also stated that ‘everybody is honorable if they have the money.’”

Mr. Boymelgreen said he didn’t recall making either of those remarks.

“We ultimately got paid back, but not without some litigation,” said Michael Beys, a principal at Aristone. “We were very happy with the final result.”

In September of last year, SL Green, the city’s largest commercial landlord, also sued Boymelgreen Global Holdings, alleging that it had fallen behind on its rent for its posh offices at 420 Lexington Avenue and “abandoned the premises.” A judge ruled that Boymelgreen owed the landlord back rent, and that its lease would be terminated early. Mr. Boymelgreen has also been sued by, among others, TD Bank for a lapsed nearly $3 million loan; and Hersha Hospitality, the firm with which he built the boutique Nu Hotel and condominium at Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Hersha alleges that Mr. Boymelgreen and his co-defendants owe about $250,000 for repairs required by the shoddy installation of heating and cooling systems.

And the bank? Earlier this year, the F.D.I.C. seized LibertyPointe’s assets and sold them to Valley National Bank. LibertyPointe, which had $210 million in assets, was hobbled by bad real estate loans. Mr. Boymelgreen has had to fire most of his employees.

These are just his New York City problems. Mr. Boymelgreen faces plenty of obstacles in Israel, where he is also an influential developer. In June, an Israeli bank requested that a court declare him bankrupt, citing unpaid debts.

 

IN RECENT YEARS, Shaya Boymelgreen has largely receded from view. Critics claim that he’s run away from his problems, but he disputes that, as well as much else that’s been written about him in the press.

The developer says that he didn’t disappear from New York so much as foresee the coming real estate collapse and refocus his energies on other markets, starting in 2006. Little did he know that the collapse would spread globally. He says it’s a decision he regrets. “I’m sorry I left Manhattan,” Mr. Boymelgreen said. “I should have stayed only in Manhattan, as far as going to Brooklyn, to Florida, to Vegas, to East Europe.”

What’s so great about Manhattan?

“Remember the advertisement, ‘Where’s the beef?’” he asked. “Nothing is like Manhattan. I have to do five other projects to make what I make in one project in Manhattan.”

In general, Mr. Boymelgreen says, he’s avoided the press because the stories it prints are so “below the belt.”

“I read here and there some bad publicity about me, and about 80 percent of it was not accurate or true,” he said. He claims that, contrary to reports, he was not evicted from his Pacific Street offices in Brooklyn, and that, also contrary to reports, there’s no truth to the rumor that he can’t return to Israel for legal reasons.

In fact, by Mr. Boymelgreen’s lights, his situation isn’t half-bad. By way of example, he recounted a conversation he said he recently had with the head of Citibank in Israel.

“They wanted us to do something together, and I told them, ‘Listen, I am not so strong as I used to be,’” Mr. Boymelgreen recalled. “So they say, ‘Shaya, I wouldn’t call it exactly how you said it. Before, you just knew how to make money. Now you know how to make, you know how to lose, we like people like this.’ He said, ‘We like you better now.’”

drubinstein@observer.com