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J.P. Morgan Dined here

New York Post

State tax agents have shuttered the 14 Wall Street restaurant in the 31st-floor penthouse of 14 Wall St., the land-marked, 1 million-square-foot office tower that Shaya Boymelgreen and his partners bought last year for $215 million. And nobody’s happier than Boymelgreen.

A spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance said it “seized and padlocked” the restaurant on March 13 over $511,546.33 in unpaid sales and withholding taxes. “They put chains on it,” said a beaming Boymelgreen, who added that the restaurant hadn’t been paying rent, either.

The abrupt closing of the eatery in what was once J.P. Morgan’s private dining room gives Boymelgreen and his partners, Africa-Israel Investments, the chance to “create a very special restaurant” in an 8,000-square-foot aerie boasting what the Zagat Survey calls “astounding” harbor views.

It’s a glamorous but small chunk of 14 Wall St., a building that adds a contrasting commercial tint to what Boymelgreen calls “my little kingdom” downtown – meaning his much-publicized residential conversion properties, 15 Broad St. and 20 Pine St.

When the partnership, known as Leviev Boymelgreen, closed on 14 Wall from Stellar Management last September, speculation was rampant that the upper floors would be converted to apartments.

But “that’s not part of the plan now,” Boymelgreen said. He’s concentrating instead on finding office tenants for some 300,000 vacant square feet, not all of it contiguous, between floors 2 and 10.

“I asked the old landlord, ‘Why are you selling?’ He said, ‘Shaya, we are going to have 300,000 square feet empty. A big tenant is going. And we can’t do it.’ ”

Boymelgreen has filed with the state attorney general’s office to market the space as commercial condominiums, which he believes would be just right for non-profits. (Approval has not yet been granted.)

“We’re going to put in amenities, such as meeting and conference rooms, to make it especially attractive to non-profits,” he said. Since non-profits pay no real estate tax, the asking price of $350 a square foot should find many takers, he predicts.

He sees downtown rents rising, despite pessimism over Ground Zero. “We used to get $22 to $24 a foot for offices here, and now we’re seeing the high-$20s and low-$30s,” he said of 14 Wall by way of example.

Although his apartment projects downtown have been highly successful, Boymelgreen thinks the downtown conversion phenomenon has peaked – mainly because the supply of old properties suitable for conversion has pretty much dried up.

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