Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto is seeking to open a synagogue in the ground floor of the Heritage at Trump Place,
The wife of a developer wrote a $56,000 personal check in an effort to stop foreclosure proceedings on a proposed synagogue site for a rabbi with strong ties to real-estate moguls.
Yishayahu Yosef Pinto has been raising money to open a synagogue on the ground floor at the Heritage at Trump Place condominium overlooking the Hudson River.
In 2008, Ilan Bracha, one of the city's top-selling residential brokers, and his partner developer Haim Binstock paid $1.65 million for the 2,700-square-foot space. Mr. Bracha said they plan to donate it for the rabbi's use.
Construction on that synagogue hasn't begun. The condo board last year obtained a judgment against Messrs. Bracha and Binstock in New York civil court for what it says amounted to $55,753 in unpaid common charges, interest and other fees, according to the condo board and court records. At the end of last year, the board started foreclosing on the property.
The board said it received on Monday a personal check from Mr. Binstock's wife. The check followed The Wall Street Journal's inquiries into the property's foreclosure.
Mr. Bracha said common charges were withheld related to a dispute between the board and the owners over access to the building. "We regret any misunderstanding with the board," Mr. Bracha said, adding that the debt was being paid.
Ben Suky, an associate of the rabbi, referred calls for comment to Judith King, a spokeswoman for Rabbi Pinto's Shuva Israel organization. Ms. King's office said she wasn't available for comment.
Condo board representatives couldn't be reached for comment on Tuesday. Prior to the payment, the board said in a statement it was "unanimous in its resolve to prosecute this matter to the fullest extent and will pursue every available remedy."
Rabbi Pinto hails from a long line of rabbis who trace their lineage back to pre-Inquisition Spain. He has established synagogues and schools around the world, including Russia and Argentina.
Aside from his charitable work and religious teachings, he is best known for his consultations with real-estate developers.
When Haim Revah, a real-estate magnate who once owned the Lipstick Building where Bernard Madoff was a tenant, brooded about purchasing the Bank One tower in Dallas two years ago, the rabbi suggested a maximum bid that proved to be the winning price: $216 million. "I don't know how the rabbi did it, but at the end of the day, it was the best price possible," Mr. Revah says.
The rabbi also tells his followers when to pass on a deal. Real-estate investor Ofer Yardeni was considering opportunities in Europe, but the rabbi wouldn't let him, telling the Israeli-born investor his home was now New York. "To knock down a wall, you pound on the same place. If you do it all over, you'll never knock it down," Mr. Yardeni recalls the rabbi telling him.
Mr. Bracha, also from Israel, met Rabbi Pinto shortly after moving to New York and struck up a close relationship. "He's like a mentor and a father to me," Mr. Bracha told the Journal in a 2008 interview. "He has a red phone to God."
With Prudential Douglas Elliman, Mr. Bracha became one of the top brokers at the city's biggest residential brokerage firm. Last month, he left the firm to open a Manhattan office for Keller-Williams, the Texas-based real-estate franchise company.
While at Dougals Elliman, Mr. Bracha also launched a property development company, B + B Investment Group, with Mr. Binstock. Mr. Binstock couldn't be reached for comment.
Those two partners formed a limited-liability company that purchased the commercial space at 240 Riverside Boulevard, a 31-story condominium that is part of the Trump Organization's large redevelopment at the former railroad yards by Riverside Park.
Messrs. Bracha and Binstock planned to build a synagogue at the space to complement Rabbi Pinto's existing synagogue on the East Side. Last March, the partners held a fund-raiser for construction of the synagogue at the 15 Central Park West condominium; developers Serge Hoyda and Yair Levy were among the power players attending.
But in early in 2009, the partners defaulted by failing to pay their share of the building's common charges, according to the foreclosure action brought by the condo board in New York State Supreme Court. "There have been recurring defaults thereafter," the lawsuit by the condo board stated.
That lawsuit followed a civil case in which the condo board obtained a judgment against the commercial-space owners. Their partnership "admits it has no defense to the plaintiff's claims," court documents of the judgment show. The partners then made two consecutive monthly payments of about $1,758, but after that stopped paying again, the condo board said.
Neither Rabbi Pinto nor Messrs. Bracha and Binstock have submitted any construction plans for approval to the condo board, according to the board.