By Roland Li
Benchmark Real Estate Group, LLC recently closed on its eighth multifamily property in Greenwich Village and Soho. By the end of the year, the company hopes to add an additional four or five properties.
Last November, Benchmark purchased 156 Sullivan Street, a 16,000 s/f building with 22 two-bedroom apartments and three retail stores, for $6 million. In February, it purchased 318 East 11th Street for $4 million, and last week, Benchmark acquired 10 Fifth Avenue, a 15,000 s/f elevator building with 14 apartments and two retail spaces.
Principals Jordan Vogel and Aaron Feldman, who acquired thousands of residential properties at Stephen Siegel’s SG2 Properties, LLC., founded Benchmark in early 2009.
Feldman said the company receives around 55% to 60% financing from community banks, as well as equity from individual investors. Benchmark works with around 50 investors, including many friends and family members.
Benchmark focuses on the $3 million to $12 million market, a price point that its founders believe has the best value.
“The larger deals that we’re seeing out there are being picked up by a REIT or an institution,” said Feldman. “We can’t justify paying that much.”
Currently, the company, which employs around 10 people, has a $4 million rent roll from around 250 apartments. Rents are above the market average, said Feldman, and the buildings are all essentially fully leased, with vacancies coming from renovation work. Benchmark also has a $1.5 million annual retail revenue stream.
“Slowly, we’ve started to build a small retail component,” said Feldman, who added that retail has the advantage of diversifying the company’s revenue, as well as enlivening the streets and giving its buildings an identity.
Benchmark does some renovation work on each property it acquires, hiring electricians, plumbers and construction workers. Improvements range from façade, lobby and cosmetic work to more extensive boiler and roof replacements.
Over the next few months, Benchmark will continue to explore acquisitions, while maintaining its current portfolio.
“We’re not looking to explode overnight,” said Feldman.