To thwart Barnett, Hell’s Kitchen owner files for bankruptcy

Gary Barnett of Extell, Robert Gans and an aerial view of 616 11th Avenue (Robert’s Steakhouse, Google Maps)

Robert Gans, owner of a popular Hell’s Kitchen assembly with lucrative potential, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Towering above is one of the city’s top promoters: Gary Barnett.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which Gans filed earlier this week, will protect his property from a planned foreclosure sale in September by a subsidiary of Barnett’s Extell Development and its partner, Eli Tabak’s Bluestone Group. Gans’ bankruptcy was first reported by Crain’s.

A limited liability company controlled by Extell and Bluestone, which bought senior debt secured by its portfolio for $148 million and claims mezzanine arrears of $27 million, wants control of its 57,700 square foot assembly between West Streets 45th and West 46th at 11th Avenue.

The Extell subsidiary and Bluestone bought the senior debt in April from Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies.

Other properties in play include a smaller parcel owned by Gans on 11th Avenue with development potential of 150,000 square feet, the building that houses the Scores strip club on West 28th Street and 32,000 square feet of industrial property in Queens.

Lawyers for Gans disputed the amount of outstanding mezzanine debt, which Bluestone created in 2018 for $17.8 million, according to a court filing. Mezzanine loans, which are secured by equity, have higher interest rates than senior loans secured by real estate.

Extell and Bluestone are also seeking to end Gans’ option to buy property at 605 West 45th Street, which would halt assembly and potentially force the developers into a large takeover.

If Extell can’t stop Gans from buying it or meeting its price, it will have to wait a long time. Gans scheduled the shutdown for January 2027, according to court records.

A lawsuit filed in April by Gans against Bluestone, which seeks $100 million for an alleged conspiracy and “predatory scheme” to sell its property under his command, is pending.

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