“Divine Intervention” makes for award-worthy transaction
February 27, 2015

By the grace of God, Savills Studley’s David Carlos and Ira Schuman managed to sell an Upper West Side Jewish congregation’s home to Extell Development and Megalith Capital Management for $45 million in December.

Now, the brokers are hoping the deal gets the blessing of one of real estate’s highest powers.

Carlos and Schuman’s deal, christened “Divine Intervention or Deal: The story of the Sale, Repurchase, Rebuilding and Temporary Home for Congregation Habonim,” is one of 19 submissions nominated for the Real Estate Board of New York’s 2014 “Most Ingenious Deal of the Year” award. The submission, reviewed by The Real Deal, provides insight into how brokers go about pulling off some of the city’s most challenging real estate transactions.

One of the key components of the deal was that the Congregation Habonim, which runs a successful nursery school out of its decades-old synagogue at 44 West 66th Street, needed not only to find a new home that would double its size to roughly 25,000 square feet, but also required a temporary location where it could operate for five years during development.

“Money usually solves most problems, but we didn’t have any,” the brokers’ tale reads.

For at least 15 years, Habonim had sought a real estate solution. But when a potential 2007 deal to sell the property to Walt Disney Company — which owned most of the remainder of the block — fell apart, Mickey Mouse was miffed.

With that in mind, Carlos flew out to California in 2012 to mend the fences. He managed to broker a peace treaty between the two parties, after which he and Schuman started running through a list of options, ranging from a property swap to pursuing a joint venture.

By late 2013, Studley and Habonim had decided that the best course of action was to partner with a developer who would build on both the congregation and Disney’s sites...

“Divine Intervention” makes for award-worthy transaction

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