By Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — At the height of the real estate boom, a 60-foot high sheet of bedrock was jackhammered away to make room for a 23-story luxury condominium development in Hudson Heights to be called "One Bennett Park."
But more than two years later, all that remains at 33-55 Overlook Terrace is a hole in the ground, a lawsuit, and a displaced congregation from the local Jewish center.
Back in 2007, lenders Petra Mortgage Capital and Amalgamated Bank agreed to fund the $95 million development in Hudson Heights proposed by Thompson Development Group.
Amalgamated was responsible for managing the two company's investments — including the $32 million Petra laid out for the project’s start
Petra initiated a lawsuit against Amalgamated on Oct. 28 demanding the bank repay them the $32 million they invested, reported TheRealDeal.com.
Now litigation is pending and there seems to be little hope that work on the project will resume any time soon.
Ruddy Thompson, president of Thompson Development Group, said one of his biggest regrets is how the impasse has negatively affected neighbors in the area.
In particular, he cited the Ft. Tryon Jewish Center, whom he had brokered a deal with to renovate their space in exchange for the right to build a condo entrance on Fort Washington Avenue.
The congregation was displaced during the construction and is now sharing a space with the Hebrew Tabernacle Congregation in Washington Heights.
"It’s been over two and a half years," Thompson said. "I feel awful about it, but they are a very sweet elderly congregation and they know what’s going on out here with the banks."
The Fort Tryon Jewish Center did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
As the big banks duke it out over the money initially invested in the project, Thompson said he is still looking for funding and has not given up.
"My lawyer tells me bankers and investors are out there for existing developments, but for construction there is none," he said.
Thompson said he believes the neighborhood can sustain a development of this type and believes buyers, perhaps doctors from Columbia’s medical complex in Washington Heights, would still be interested in the development.
"There has never been a high-rise condo in this neighborhood and there is nothing like this all the way to 110th street," he said. "And what happened to the high-rise projects that went up down there? They’ve all sold out."
Petra and Amalgamated did not immediately respond to requests for comment.