The Real Deal New York

Bronx landlord Chestnut pays $22M for historic Jewish houses

Shalom Aleichem Houses were acquired through foreclosure
By Hiten Samtani | April 18, 2013 06:00PM

Updated, 12:55 p.m., Apr. 20: Chestnut Holdings has paid $22 million for a trio of distressed properties in the Bronx that are part of a former historical Jewish complex, according to city records filed today.

The deal for the Shalom Aleichem Houses in Van Cortlandt Village in the Jerome Park neighborhood closed March 4. The acquisition includes 3605 Sedgwick Avenue, a 153,952-square-foot building with 116 units; 3470 Cannon Place, a 65,000-square-foot building with 55 units; and 3451 Giles Place, a 71,000-square-foot building with 64 units, according to PropertyShark. The three properties consist of 15 smaller buildings. 

“They’re excellent buildings — it’s a beautiful complex,” Daniel Wiener, Chestnut’s director of investments, told The Real Deal. “It was built by socialist Jewish immigrants, and was a socialist/Communist complex back in the 1920s.”

Brooklyn-based Van Cortlandt Village LLC purchased the three-property complex in 2007, but fell behind in its bank payments and the properties went into foreclosure, Wiener said. Representatives from Van Cortlandt Village could not be reached for comment.

Chestnut will continue to operate the units as rental apartments, Wiener added.

Chestnut has been amassing a vast portfolio of over 70 properties in the Bronx, but has come under fire from tenants for alleged mismanagement and a series of rent and fee hikes.

Chestnut’s chief executive Jonathan Wiener was recently ranked No. 20 out of 106 of the Bronx’s “worst landlords,” by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s office, based on building violations at its 2201 Jerome Avenue property, as previously reported.

Daniel Wiener, who is Jonathan’s son, addressed this issue, noting that at the time Chestnut bought the building in September 2012, it had over 450 violations, and that the Public Advocate’s list does not take into account violations incurred under previous ownership. The property now has 131 violations, according to Housing Preservation and Development records, and Wiener said they were actively working to keep reducing the number.

“We take a lot of pride in our ownership,” he added. “We buy tough buildings in particularly tough areas. We do get flak from time to time for stuff like this. Our name gets put on after the fact.”

Wiener defended Chestnut’s record as a landlord, saying allegations of rent hikes were “absolutely not possible,” given that the buildings were rent-regulated.

“If you look at the rate of violations in our buildings, it’s significantly less than one per unit,” he said. “Perspective-wise, it’s really very good compared to other multifamily operators in the neighborhood.”

Housing violations records confirmed his statement.