Forest Hills mainstay sells commercial building for $13.35M

By Adam Fusfeld | December 21, 2011 03:02PM

Prominent Forest Hills Developer Heskel Group Has Sold A Commercial Building On Austin Street for $13.35 million, according to public records filed this week. The buyer is a Flushing-based limited liability company called Sawyen.

The property is a 21,000-square-foot building with ground-floor retail space and office space in the basement and second floor at 70-10 Austin Street near 70th Avenue, that has been anchored by a Sprint store for more than 20 years. Sprint recently renewed its lease at about $120 per square foot, according to Heskel Group founder Yeheskel Elias, keeping the property 100 percent occupied. Other tenants include an AT&T store, several medical offices and Heskel Group’s office.

Heskel built the structure in 1987 for $2.6 million and spent another $2.5 million to renovate it and add another floor of office space in 2002, Elias said.

“I felt I realized all I could from the property,” Elias said. The sale was off-market and no brokers were involved as the buyer, who Elias would only identify as a wealthy investor, approached Elias directly and had been badgering him to sell the property for more than a year. Sawyen’s capitalization rate is on the acquisition, which closed Nov. 18, is about 6 percent. The owner “can’t really reinvent the wheel there; it’s a good performing property in a solid area,” Elias said. Sawyen could not be reached for comment.

Elias has recently shifted his focus from Forest Hills, where he has been acquiring and developing assets on or near Austin Street since the early 1970s, and said he has begun searching triple-net leased single-entity properties throughout the city where less management is required. He said he is nearing a deal for at least one such retail bank property in Manhattan, and has his eyes on several other free-standing branches of Chase, Bank of America and TD Bank.