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Four major retail landlords are suing the city to lower their property taxes, which they say are unfairly based on their pre-pandemic rents.

According to the suit first reported by the Real Deal, owners of prime retail condos on Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street claim their property taxes are grossly overassessed because theyre based on income and expenses in 2022, which reflected leases signed prior to the pandemic.

Stores such as Harry Winston, Versace and Ikea subsequently moved out or negotiated smaller new leases.

Harry Winston, for example, relinquished three upper floors at 697 Fifth Ave., reducing the rent to landlord Vornado from $22 million to $6 million.

At  205 E. 59th St., landlord Zucker Organization lost Ikeas $2 million in annual rent after its lease expired in November.

Prominent real estate dealmakers agreed with the landlords predicament and said the city was unfairly attempting to squeeze more money from them.

The city historically does not look at these assessments  the way an investor does. Theyre not  basing it on current market rents and thats an issue, Daniel Kaplan, a senior vice-president at CBREs Investment Properties Group, told The Post.

The problem is, youre projecting rent revenue based on current rents but the tax is based on old,  higher rents.

The over-assessments not only put retail condo owners in a pickle, they also impact a sale price if theyre trying to sell, he added.

One property named in the lawsuit, the former Ikea space at 205 E. 59th St., is up for sale rather than for lease.

The decline in rents should in turn result in lower taxes due to lower imputed or realized income for these properties, said a retail broker at a different firm, who didnt want to be named:

Cushman & Wakefield leasing legend Joanne Podell noted,  Taxes are ultimately a burden for landlords and occupiers — because retailers look at the present per-square-foot rent and future costs which include  taxes over a base year.

The retail  scene was staggered after rents peaked in 2015-16  and crashed due to Covid 19 — on top of the blow from online shopping.

The Post reported this week that Kim Kardashians shapewear brand Skims leased 20,000 square feet at Oxford Properties and Crown Acquisitions 647 Fifth Ave. for 75% less than the $770 per square foot that previous tenant Versace paid.

The lawsuit says the Skims deal will bring the landlords a mere $5.5 million a year, although the city based its assessment on estimated gross income of $18 million.

Fitch recently downgraded the mortgage on  647 Fifth Ave. due to reduced rental revenue expectations.
A Department of Finance rep said the suit was under review.

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