referee ends Damon Dash saga at 79 Laight Street after a year

nobody puts the D in distress sale like DD
It is not obvious from the deed names of record, but the July 15 sale of the Manhattan loft #5F at 709 Laight Street (the US Sugar Building) was of the second of two lofts previously owned shared with the bank by former phenom Damon Dash. The record owner at the time of the sale is some Esq. “as referee”, but the full story as of a year ago (tempis fugits!) was in my July 28, 2010, 79 Laight Street loft also being auctioned today (UPDATED) and the companion July 27, 2010, foreclosure auction tomorrow for 25 N. Moore Street celebrity loft. The Reader’s Digest version:

  • aspiring mogul buys lofts in early 2004 at 25 N. Moore Street (the Atalanta) and #5F for $3.875mm and $1,807,394
  • aggressive entrepreneur refinances these two lofts for $7.3mm in late 2006, implying a (ahem) 40% market gain in 30 months
  • combustible business partner has falling out with Jay Z, and business falls to pieces
  • nervous real estate “owner” begins trying to unravel the kingdom by offering #5F for sale at $5mm in November 2007, not quite 3 times what he had paid 44 months earlier
  • high roller takes #5F off the market in August 2008 after the bank files a lis pendens against the two lofts
  • bank secures deficiency judgment against deadbeat owner March 1, 2010 for $8,960,752
  • at foreclosure auctions a year ago, the Atlanta loft sold, #5F did not (is DD chastened?)

(More details in my two posts and in this overview from The Atlanta Post March 16, 2010.)

I described loft #5F and the context of other sales at 79 Laight Street in that July 28, 2010 post:

At "2,888 sq ft" and three levels, #5F is one of those funky Sugar Warehouse layouts (love ’em or hate ’em). I hit the odd unusual layouts and values in this building earlier this year (January 31[, 2010], what’s up with this down? Sugar closes on Laight Street under $1,000/ft) and way back on December 4, 2008, Sugar is sweet but 79 Laight Street closing is better. The Sugar sales in that December 2008 post are pretty germane to the tale of #5F. Click through for the details, but here is the money quote from my January 2010 post:

The difference between the September 2008 sales of the smaller #5D ("2,332 sq ft") as a duplex with no claim to river views ($2.525mm, or $1,083/ft) and the January 2010 sale of the larger #4D ($2.6mm, or $948/ft) as a duplex with a direct river view is rather striking.

Keep the September 2008 value of $1,083/ft for a duplex with no claim to river views in mind when looking at this (truncated) price history for #5F, a triplex that claims both partial and full river views (sigh):


Nov 27, 2007



Jan 8, 2008



Feb 19



July 4



Point being, his timing and judgment were bad, in real estate as in other things, when things were under his control.

current affairs
Having not sold at auction at an acceptable price a year ago, the bank (represented by that Esq. “as referee”) for some reason waited until November 3 to put #5F out on the public market, asking $3.195mm, $1,106/ft. That took a while to work, meaning that it took until May 20 to find the contract that closed two weeks ago at $2.85mm ($987/ft).

Note that this market price for #5F compares nicely with the January 2010 sale of the “2,743 sq ft” #4D ($2.6mm, or $948/ft) noted above, a duplex loft with direct river views.

Two sales of similar sized Sugar Warehouse duplex lofts (as I said, love ’em or hate ’em) closed at higher values in the months after #4D last year, neither of which boasted about river views:

April 21, 2010 #4C “2,783 sq ft” $3.1mm $1,114/ft
May 18, 2010 #3D “2,743 sq ft” $2.92mm $1,064/ft

Note that the recent market price for #5F does not compare so nicely with these two sales from more than a year ago.

slowing down the train wreck
Looks as though the buyer got a good deal for #5F, but how did the bank do?

The referee sold #5F at $2.85mm, less expenses (his own, plus the brokerage fee, plus the transfer taxes, plus …?) and the Atalanta loft sold at auction last year for $5.5mm (again, less expenses). That total slightly exceeds the $7.3mm that was taken out of these two lofts in late 2006, even before considering the expenses, but the bank was owed a whole lot more: as noted above the bank’s judgment as of March 1, 2010 was $8,960,752; it should have increased on the Atalanta portion until the foreclosure sale closed there last year, and on the Sugar Warehouse portion until two weeks ago.

In other words, DD the aspiring mogul aggressive entrepreneur combustible business partner nervous real estate “owner” high roller deadbeat is still way under water with the bank (unless the loan was non-recourse). The city should have gotten its (presumably) unpaid real estate taxes back, off the top of each sale, which were $2,694/mo at the Atalanta and $1,787/mo at the Sugar Warehouse, and presumably unpaid for some years.  

With these dreary numbers, the two condos are out many, many, many months of common charges ($2,227/mo at the Atalanta, $2,380/mo at US Sugar) (there was at least one condo lien for unpaid common charges by January 2009).

As I said in that July 27, 2010 post:

Hard to imagine that even the bank will come out very well here.

I will guess that the bank is still out seven figures and the two condos six figures. I will guess that the condos secured judgments against DD, but that those will be very hard to collect on, going forward. (His former neighbors are rooting for his future success!) As a taxpayer I am pleased that the city was made whole for real estate taxes, and collected two sets of transfer taxes. As a Manhattan loft guy voyeur I am bouncing around in that zone of fascinated and appalled by these numbers and this history.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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