The Real Deal New York

Alexander Rovt planning to build two NYC hotels

Fertilizer billionaire has set aside $250 million for developments

May 14, 2015 08:30AM
By Konrad Putzier

Rovt DeKalb

From left: Alex Rovt and 1209 DeKalb Avenue (credit: RJ Harper and Kutnicki Bernstein Architects)

Fertilizer billionaire Alexander Rovt wants to build two four-star hotels in New York – one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.

The Ukrainain-born magnate told The Real Deal he has set aside up to $250 million for the two projects, although he hasn’t identified any specific sites or partners yet. “If you build three- or four-star hotels, you will always have customers,” Rovt said, dismissing the notion that New York’s hospitality sector is nearing a state of oversupply. “I think that a hotel offers one of the best returns we can get.”

Rovt has been a quietly active investor in the New York real estate market since buying 14 Wall Street for $303 million in an all-cash deal in 2012. In April 2014, he co-financed Spruce Capital Partners’ $58 million acquisition of the 127-unit rental building 1209 DeKalb Avenue, which the partners have since been looking to flip. The two have also partnered up for the condo development 151 East 78th Street. More recently, Rovt invested $8 million in GFI Capital’s planned Ace Hotel at 61 Bond Street, which has yet to be built. Rovt kept a low profile throughout, and his involvement in the three deals hasn’t been publicly disclosed until now.

Spruce’s Robert Schwartz confirmed that Rovt is a partner in the deals, although he couldn’t confirm that the Brooklyn hotel project will be an Ace Hotel.

The magnate, who made a fortune in the fertilizer trade with ex-Soviet republics, has had less luck trying to sell his Upper East Side mansion. The opulently-designed, 12,000-square-foot property at 232 East 63rd Street has been on the market for four years and recently had its price chopped from $25 million to $21.5 million. Rovt bought the building for $6.96 million in 2008, and reportedly spent $18 million turning it into something akin to a baroque palace.

While Rovt is still hoping to sell the property — even tossing in a Rolls-Royce as a sweetener — he said he is being patient. “Maybe I will sell it, but it’s so well made,” he said. “I didn’t build it for sale, I built it for myself.”