Real Estate

Charles Cohen Halts Fortress' $534M Foreclosure, New Plan Due July 15

Charles Cohen's $534M foreclosure delayed by court ruling, Fortress must revise plan by July 15.

By Tal Alexander

6/10, 15:38 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Charles Cohen secured a temporary halt to Fortress Investment Group's $534 million foreclosure, with the judge deeming it "commercially unreasonable."
  • The court denied Cohen's claim of no default due to a loan modification but allowed Fortress to resubmit a revised foreclosure plan.
  • Fortress has until July 15 to submit the new plan, and Cohen’s team can oppose it by July 29, potentially delaying the process further.

Charles Cohen's Last-Minute Reprieve

In a dramatic turn of events, billionaire Charles Cohen's real estate empire has been granted a temporary reprieve from a $534 million foreclosure filed by Fortress Investment Group. The New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the foreclosure would not be "commercially reasonable" under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), providing Cohen with a crucial lifeline. This decision delays the auction of Cohen's diverse portfolio, which includes a hotel, office building, development site, design center, and 50 movie theaters, originally scheduled for July 1. The ruling underscores the complexities and high stakes involved in large-scale commercial real estate foreclosures.

The Foreclosure Battle Details

Cohen's legal team argued that the auction notice failed to meet the "standards of commercial reasonableness" required by the UCC. Specifically, the notice lacked detailed descriptions of the pledged interests, the assets owned, the terms of the sale, and the eligibility criteria for bidders. This argument echoes a similar case involving HFZ Capital Group and CIM Group, where a judge halted a foreclosure auction due to insufficient auction details. Fortress now has until July 15 to submit a revised foreclosure plan, with Cohen's team given until July 29 to respond, setting the stage for further legal wrangling.

Broader Implications for Commercial Real Estate

The significance of this case extends beyond Cohen's immediate interests. It highlights the broader challenges facing the commercial real estate sector, particularly in an environment of rising interest rates and economic uncertainty. Fortress' aggressive foreclosure move and the subsequent legal pushback reflect a growing trend of lenders seeking to reclaim assets amid financial distress. This scenario is not unique to Cohen; other high-profile real estate firms, such as Aby Rosen's RFR Holding, are also grappling with similar foreclosure pressures due to defaults on substantial loans.

Market Dynamics and Legal Precedents

The Cohen-Fortress case is emblematic of the current volatility in the commercial real estate market. Rising interest rates have increased the financial burden on property owners with floating-rate loans, leading to a surge in defaults and foreclosure actions. The legal precedents set by cases like HFZ Capital Group's battle with CIM Group provide a roadmap for property owners to challenge foreclosure actions on the grounds of commercial reasonableness. These legal battles are likely to become more common as property owners and lenders navigate the complexities of loan agreements and market conditions.