By Linda O’FLanagan
The Harbor Group is selling the 203-unit Esquire apartment portfolio for $46 million.
The sale price equates to $221,000 per unit, according to brokers involved in the deal, a “very healthy price” for the Washington Heights neighborhood.
It was a much more sickly set of buildings that Harbor bought out of foreclosure in 2011. According to reports at the time, the four-building rent regulated portfolio — 19 West 143rd Street, 610 West 163rd Street and 548 West 164th Street — was among thousands of victims of predatory lending.
Then owner, Vantage Properties and Area Property Partners, had taken out a $31 million loan on the properties that was later repackaged in the commercial mortgage backed securities market. Harbor was able to buy the mezzanine loan and foreclose on the portfolio. According to brokers Bob Knakal and Rob Shapiro at Massey Knakal, they are now capitalizing on a blistering northern Manhattan multi-family market.
“There were three active bidders for this portfolio,” said Knakal who, along with Shapiro, represented Harbor and buyer, Majestic Partners. “That dovetails with the general market trend that has seen $1.3 billion in sales through the third quarter of this year, eclipsing the $1.1 billion sold during the whole of last year.”
Sandwiched between the expanding Columbia University and Columbia Hospital, the portfolio sits amongst of plethora of new bars, restaurants and shops that are earning the neighborhood a hipster reputation.
According to Shapiro, “There’s not a lot of product for sale up there, and anything that does go on the market in snapped up at a premium. “It is one of the last areas of Manhattan where you can still achieve upside on rents and investors are chasing these opportunities.”
According to Ariel Properties, portfolio sales like the Esquire deal continue to account for a significant portion of the activity uptown. During September, the multifamily market in Northern Manhattan saw seven transactions consisting of 21 buildings and $107.665 million in gross consideration, a year-over-year increase in dollar and building volume.
Harbor Group International is a global private real estate firm based in Norfolk, Va. and led by chairman and CEO Jordan Slone. It currently owns more than 10.5 million square feet of commercial properties and over 24,500 apartment units internationally.
In recent years, it has increased its investment in the New York multi-family arena, acquiring apartment buildings at 162-164 East 82nd Street and 334-338 East 79th Street for $20.5 million.
REW was unable to secure comment from Harbor by press time. We were unable to reach the buyer, a company led by developer and investor Michael Aryeh.