The Real Deal New York

Infinity Urban Century pays $12.5M for ground lease of distressed Murray Hill building

Under-the-radar investment firm was also involved in assemblage of 701 Seventh Avenue
By Hiten Samtani | March 29, 2013 04:30PM

Updated: 11:39 a.m., Apr. 1: Real estate investor Infinity Urban Century has purchased the ground lease at a Murray Hill mixed-use building for $12.5 million from alleged slumlord Bahram Hakakian, city records filed today show.

The deal for 22 East 36th Street, a 10-story, 60,300-square-foot building located just off Madison Avenue, closed on March 14. The property has 51,300 square feet of residential space and 9,000 square feet of office space. Managing partner Etienne Locoh told The Real Deal the property would be held for investment purposes. 

“Plans are just to hold it for cash flow,” he said. “It’s a nice property.”

Infinity Urban Century, an investment unit of the Infinity Group that is also associated with Urban Century Group, has been involved in a number of large deals in recent years. In October 2012, the company sold Daymark Realty Advisors, a brokerage and former subsidiary of bankrupt Grubb & Ellis, to Sovereign Capital Management.

Infinity Urban Century, in concert with Maefield Development, also assembled 701 Seventh Avenue, a major development site in Times Square that they purchased together in October 2012 along with the Witkoff Group and Howard Lorber’s Vector Group for $430 million. The buyers plan to develop a 500-room hotel on the site with a 130,000-square-foot retail section on the lower level.

Yet Infinity Urban Century has managed to maintain a measure of silence in a market where the walls have very keen ears. Indeed, several top investment sales brokers who spoke to The Real Deal today admitted they had never heard of the company.

Locoh, a former principal at Citigroup’s North American private equity real estate division, said he prefers it that way.

“We like to keep as low a profile as possible,” he said.

In 2011, Hakakian, who has been on a city “slumlord” watch list and, at the time, had racked up more than $512,000 in emergency repair charges from the city, sold a distressed portfolio to Long Island City-based Alma Realty for $22.5 million.

Hakakian was not immediately available for comment. Steven Kassin, a principal at Infinity Group who Locoh deferred to for further comment, could not immediately be reached.