Brookfield owes BPCA big bucks

The Battery Park City Authority says Brookfield Properties owes them millions of Lehman Brothers dollars collected after the investment bank left Lower Manhattan.

Brookfield, which owns the World Financial Center and is Downtown’s largest property owner, got a big payout when Lehman bought out of its Battery Park City lease after 9/11. The authority, which owns the WFC land, says Brookfield owes a percentage of the payment, somewhere between $4 million and $6.75 million, and is trying to recover the money through arbitration.

The authority collected $25 million from Brookfield in a similar dispute a few years ago, but staffers at last week’s board meeting said their case isn’t as strong this time because the lease language is fuzzy.  

“It’s not that clear,” Jim Cavanaugh, authority C.E.O., told Bill Thompson, the board’s chairperson.

If the authority wins, it could collect 18 percent in interest fees as well as its legal fees, but arbitrators did not award the BPCA any interest or expenses a few years ago when Brookfield lost.

Brookfield is arguing that the payments to the authority should be stretched out over time since it could have gotten the payments from Lehman in installments, according to Sandy Altman, BPCA general counsel.

A Brookfield spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. 

Altman did express some sympathy for Brookfield losing one of its largest tenants after the terrorist attack. “It was a big blow,” she said. “They have a long sad story.”

But she said the firm is overplaying the victim card, adding “they’re not an old lady we took advantage of.”

— Josh Rogers