UPDATED, 7:51 p.m., July 15: A Lebanese-born, Brazil-based investor has told The Real Deal that he is setting his sights on New York, and expects to bid on prime retail space in Manhattan as well as larger, high-profile trophy assets. But one industry insider said his claims were bogus.
In a telephone interview, Moni Shababo talked about his intention to park at least $100 million in New York real estate this year. He is focusing on retail, he said, because he believes prime retail assets have the greatest potential for value appreciation in the next several years.
Though relatively new to New York, the Brazil-based Shababo has already invested in several retail deals so far this year — at 711 Madison Avenue, 169 Spring Street, 138 Spring Street and 113 Spring Street, according to Sitt Asset Management, principals of which said Shababo is working exclusively with their firm.
Shababo has invested about $10 million in deals with Sitt Asset, the company’s principals said. Two wrapped up this spring were the 711 Madison Avenue and the 138 Spring Street buys; a source at Sitt Asset credited the company’s recent buying spree in part to the Brazilian investor.
The Sao Paulo-based investor is also turning to larger, trophy assets on behalf of his family in Brazil, he said, and made a bid on the Empire State Building of $2.3 billion, following other offers from such heavy hitters as Thor Equities’ Joseph Sitt and investor Rubin Schron, whom Shababo has invested with, according to Sitt Asset. He told TRD that he did not receive a response to his offer, which could not be verified.
However, one major real estate player said Shababo was not a property investor and was making false claims. Sitt Asset was not immediately available to respond to that allegation.
Many industry pros are bullish on retail deals in neighborhoods such as Soho and the Upper East Side.
Retail developers Bobby Cayre, Jeff Sutton, Joseph Sitt and the Adjmi family are planning to redevelop a retail property at 529 Broadway, which they acquired in December for a Soho record of $147.9 million, into a six-story retail box, The Real Deal previously reported, and Imperium Capital’s Sam Schneider and Daniel Glaser partnered with Centurion Realty and ASB Real Estate to buy the retail condominium at the base of 40 Mercer Street for $80 million earlier this month.