The Real Deal New York

San Francisco developer Dennis Wong is unnamed partner in Dermot: sources

SPI Holdings chief quietly bought stake in firm earlier this year

November 06, 2015 02:55PM
By Rich Bockmann

Dennis Wong and 377 East 33rd Street

Dennis Wong and 377 East 33rd Street in Kips Bay

Dennis Wong, a real estate investor and part-owner of the Golden State Warriors, is one of the unnamed partners who bought a stake in the Dermot Company earlier this year, sources told The Real Deal.

Wong, co-founder of the San Francisco-based developer SPI Holdings, is one of the investors who teamed up with Dermot executives and London-based Forum Partners to buy a 50 percent stake in the company from founder William Dickey when he stepped down as CEO this summer, multiple sources confirmed.

Neither Wong nor Dermot responded to requests for comment. It’s unclear how much the investors paid for the stake in the company, which owns at least $2 billion in assets, or what the size of Wong’s stake is.

The move is, however, just one of the San Francisco investor’s latest forays into the Manhattan market.

In June, SPI paid $21 million to buy a five-story apartment building on 10th Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets in Hell’s Kitchen. That followed the firm’s purchase of a $12.8 million walk-up on the Lower East Side late last year.

The ownership shuffle came at a time when Dermot, one of the city’s most active multi-family developers, sold off a $362 million portfolio of 32 rent-stabilized properties as it shifted gears toward luxury properties and planned to put more than $750 million into new developments. The firm also backed out of a deal to develop a $175 million site in Hudson Yards owned by the Port Authority due to projected development costs.

Stephen Benjamin, the former Dermot chief operating officer who was promoted to CEO, told TRD at the time that deal with Forum would assist in the company’ goal of “grow[ing] our capital base to make significant investments here in New York.”

Earlier this week Real Estate Alert reported that Dermot and an “unidentified wealthy individual” teamed up to buy a 209-unit apartment building at 377 East 33rd Street from AvalonBay Communities for $175 million.

A source familiar with the transaction identified Wong as the unidentified partner.