Bronx residents in some of the city’s most decrepit buildings got some good news today, as Steve Finkelstein closed on the purchase of 10 borough buildings with 546 units for $27.75 million. Finkelstein, a Scarsdale-based landlord, promised to correct the 4,831 violations incurred by the buildings and fix the deep-rooted problems that are causing them, as part of an agreement with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
The buildings belonged to Milbank Real Estate, a California-based firm that purchased numerous poorly-maintained buildings in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx at the height of the bubble, but were foreclosed on during the country’s economic collapse. According to Crain’s, LNR Property took over the buildings, but neither repaired the buildings (a common problem plaguing the Bronx) nor appeared willing to sell them for a loss on the loan — making it financially unfeasible for a new owner to take over and appeal to tenants’ demands for repair.
Robert Knakal led the marketing team for Massey Knakal Realty Services, which was the sole broker in the transaction. He told The Real Deal that among the buildings in the deal were 3018 Heath Avenue, 1576 Taylor Avenue and 2770 Kingsbridge Terrace.
Former Housing Commissioner Rafael Cestero said he had “never been more shocked, angered and frustrated” by tenants’ conditions than he was after touring some of these properties last year. But Finkelstein has said he’s committed to the buildings. “Getting the buildings into the hands of an owner who has met with the tenants and sat down with them as opposed to a corporation from California that they never saw or heard from, this is huge,” said current HPD Deputy Commissioner Vito Mustaciuolo. “We’re optimistic we’re going to see some real positive changes in these buildings.” [Crain’s]