By Daniel Geiger
950 Second Avenue, a development site that can accommodate up to about 80,000 s/f of residential space, has been sold to an Israeli group for roughly $25 million, according to sources.
Darban Investments, a subsidiary of the Tel-Aviv based investment company Fishman Group that is involved in real estate development and management, is buying the site, according to sources.
The deal is the second that the real estate company has completed in the city in recent months. Last year, Fishman acquired the $50 million mortgage on the Chelsea office building 218 West 18th Street for over $42 million and proceeded to foreclose on the roughly 160,000 s/f, nearly fully vacant property.
The parcel at 950 Second Avenue, which sits between 50th and 51st Street, was owned by the Irish real estate development company Menolly Investments, which bought the land at the top of the real estate market in 2007 with plans to build residential condos.
According to a source, Menolly didn’t fall into default on the property even though its development plans were dashed by the recession. It worked out a deal with its lender, the Bank of Ireland, which held about $40 million of debt against the land, to market the parcel and try to recoup as much as possible. Menolly hired a team from Cushman & Wakefield led by executives Nat Rockett and Helen Hwang to shop the deal and handle the sale.
Menolly recently cashed out of another project as well, according to sources, slashing prices at Tempo, its long stalled condo development at 23rd Street and Second Avenue, in order to lure buyers. A number of Irish banks and lenders, including Anglo Irish Bank and the Bank of Ireland, sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into New York City real estate deals, only to see their investments vaporized by the sharp economic downturn of the past few years.
Darban, meanwhile, has snatched up real estate in the wake of the problems. In addition to buying 218 West 18th Street at a discount, the company is acquiring 950 Second Avenue for about $315 per buildable s/f according to a source, well below the $500 per foot price that Menolly sunk into the land acquisition.
Executives at Darban didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment, nor did an executive at Menolly. Rockett and Hwang also were unable to comment on the deal.