The Rockfeld Group is the latest landlord to put its money in Canal Street, as the Midtown-based firm inked a deal to buy the former headquarters of a Chinese community bank for more than $30 million.
The building at the northeast corner of Mott Street had until recently been home to the embattled Abacus Federal Savings Bank – whose officers were acquitted earlier this summer of mortgage-fraud charges – and sits in a neighborhood known for boasting some of the most cash-rich branches in the city.
Rockfeld is in contract to buy the properties at 181-183 Canal Street in an off-market deal for a sum in the mid-$30 million. A spokesperson for the firm, headed by managing partner Steven Feldman, declined to comment.
The sellers, according to property records, are a pair of owners who held title to the underlying real estate: the Berkun Family Limited Partnership managed by Barry Hyman of Westport, Conn., and Good Land Management, run by Tommy Hon Keung NG.
The five-story, 19,000-square-foot building was delivered vacant, yet still has some 10,000 safety-deposit boxes left behind in the basement by Abacus, which was found not guilty in June following a four-month during which the Manhattan district attorney unsuccessfully tried to convince a jury that the bank’s officers had lied on mortgage applications.
Though Abacus has packed up shop on Canal, a number of other banks remain, filling their vaults with the deposits of a largely immigrant community that often deals in a cash economy.
Landlords, too, are eyeing returns on the locals’ penchant to save up. Last month, former Carlyle partner Andrew Chung’s Innovo Property Group and its partner paid $44 million to buy the 15,500-square-foot retail condo at 202 Canal Street home to the Bank of China.
Lloyd Goldman’s BLDG Management three years ago bought the building across the street from Rockfeld’s property at 178 Canal Street – home to Chase Bank – for $40.8 million.
Further to the west, in an area more likely to see an influx of fashion tenants priced out of Soho, landlords like Vornado Realty Trust and Colt Equities have been purchasing properties.