UWS rental building trades at 62 percent markup, in another sign of frothy market

Gaia, Harel sell West 91st Street property for $27.2M
By James Comtois | July 30, 2013 11:30AM

Gaia Real Estate Investment and Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services have sold Gaia by the Park, a six-story rental apartment building at 5 West 91st Street on the Upper West Side, for $27.15 million, the sellers told The Real Deal.

Midtown-based investment firm Gaia and Harel, the third largest insurance firm in Israel, purchased the 48-unit property from developer Larry Gluck in 2010 for $16.75 million, as TRD previously reported. The companies bought the building as part of a partnership to buy distressed real estate in the New York City market.

“The property was purchased during the recession when we recognized the opportunity of low prices combined with the lack of financial resources available at the time,” said Gadi Ben-Haim, head of real estate investments at Harel. “The asset and its performance were improved over a short period which enabled us to sell at a great profit.”

The building, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, is 95 percent occupied. Although most of the units are rent-stabilized, Gaia turned a few of them over to free market.

“We upgraded a few of the amenities and renovated a few of the units,” said Gaia managing partner Danny Fishman, adding that “it was a good time to sell.”

Indeed, it does appear to be a good time to sell in the area, as the residential sales market for the Upper West Side has been quite active lately. For example, in April, an Upper West Side condominium unit at 1965 Broadway near 67th Street belonging to SL Green Realty chairman Stephen Green’s son was sold for more than $10 million, well over the listing price of $9.895 million.

In addition, late last year, Newcastle Realty Services purchased a 70,000-square-foot rental property, located at 380 Columbus Avenue at West 78th Street, from Joben Realty Associates for $50 million.

Earlier this month, a 7,380-square-foot residential building at 36 Riverside Drive sold for $8.6 million, which was $100,000 over its asking price after a bidding war, as The Real Deal reported.

The West 91 Street buyer was the Park family, a Fort Lee, N.J.-based family with real estate holdings in New York and New Jersey, which plans to keep the property the way it is, sources familiar with the matter told TRD. Representatives from the Parks declined to comment.

“The building is in a very desirable area. More families are looking into this area and looking for larger units. There are good schools, as well as the park, nearby,” Fishman added about 5 West 91st Street.

Amit Doshi of Besen & Associates represented the seller in the transaction, while Glenn Raff, also of Besen, represented the buyers.