Ben Shaoul’s Magnum unloads FiDi rental building for $25M

Landlord had repositioned the property, a stalled condominium project, to sell it
By Zachary Kussin | May 22, 2013 01:00PM

Ben Shaoul’s Magnum Real Estate Group has sold a high-end rental property in the Financial District to Queens-based construction and management firm Werber Management for $25 million, according to records filed with the city yesterday.

The rental building, located at 254 Front Street, is a new addition to the neighborhood and will remain a rental. The eight-story building began leasing last April. It includes 40 units, with a mix of studios, one-, two, three- bedrooms, plus a four-bedroom penthouse.

“We successfully completed our business plan of purchasing the development site from a stalled development site,” Shaoul told The Real Deal. “As part of the business plan we sell.”

Eastdil Secured represented the seller, Shaoul confirmed.

Werber manages the nearby 40 Gold Street.

“We finished construction on 40 Gold Street two summers ago, so we felt that was a really good fit into our portfolio,” Werber CFO Benjamin Werber said of 254 Front.

The new acquisition mainly has studios and one-bedrooms, while 40 Gold Street is predominantly two-bedrooms, he added.

“It’s a nice complement … from a leasing perspective,” he said.

A former condominium site, 254 Front previously belonged to developer Barry Akrongold, who bought it in 2004, as The Real Deal reported. But the Bank of Smithtown — the project’s lender — did not fund construction and the condo plans stalled. Magnum took over in 2009 to reposition the project as a rental when the bank presented them with the opportunity.

“We were helping review [some of their] troubled assets,” Magnum co-principal Marc Ravner told TRD last year.

Shaoul said the construction of the building — located in a historic district — was challenging. The 20 condo units became 40 rentals, and the finishes were altered to cater to tenants, rather than buyers, as previously reported. The exterior façade, which the Landmarks Preservation Commission had already approved, stayed the same. The Morris Adjmi-designed building has multiple materials, such as brick and zinc on the façade, and mahogany window frames.

The sale entered contract in early February and transferred on May 3, records show. There were six vacant units inside the building when Werber made the purchase, according to Adam Heller of the Heller Organization, which is handling the leasing.

There are currently five active listings at 254 Front, according to StreetEasy. Among them is a studio for $2,562 per month and a one-bedroom for $3,070. Building amenities include a doorman, gym, and East River and Brooklyn Bridge views.

“The Seaport District is really special because it’s a landmarked district,” Benjamin Werber said. “It has a very small neighborhood feel relative to the rest of FiDi.”

Magnum partnered with office landlord SL Green to buy newly constructed residential units in Williamsburg earlier this month for $51.5 million, TRD reported. Magnum also sold some properties to Jared Kushner during his acquisition streak earlier this year.