TIAA-CREF sells Astoria rental building for $47.2M

Florida billionaire Jeff Greene teams up with Boston landlord on buy
By Hiten Samtani | December 17, 2013 03:35PM

UPDATED, 12:56 p.m., Dec. 20: New York City-based financial services giant TIAA-CREF has sold the Exo, a 14-story, 115-unit rental apartment building in Astoria for $47.2 million, according to city records filed today. The buyer is a partnership between billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene and Forest Properties, a Massachusetts-based landlord making its first foray into the New York City market.

The 127,238-square-foot building is located at 26-36 27th Avenue. The units are mostly studios and one-bedrooms with an average size of 765 square feet and average asking rents of $2,521, according to CoStar Group data.

Forest Properties owns and operates several properties in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.”We feel very strongly about the Astoria rental market and are confident that the market will continue to improve,” said Forest Properties’ director of acquisitions Anderson Libert, confirming that the property would remain a rental. “The Exo gives us enough scale to break into the [New York] market.”

Peter Von Ahe, Joseph Koicim and David Lloyd of Institutional Property Advisers, a subsidiary of Marcus & Millichap, represented both sides of the deal.

TIAA-CREF paid Criterion Development Group $42.5 million for the property in March 2011, according to public records. A spokesperson for TIAA-CREF declined to comment. Len Novick of Estreich & Company, who brokered the 2011 deal, couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

The partners bought the property through a tenancy-in-common, a type of shared ownership that allows for free transfer to other owners.

Last year, TIAA-CREF agreed to pay about $250 million to developer Forest City Ratner for a 49 percent stake in New York by Gehry, the Frank Gehry-designed residential skyscraper at 8 Spruce Street. And earlier this year, TIAA-CREF joined forces with investment management firm Henderson Group to form a $20 billion real estate investment firm with assets in Europe and Asia.

Long Island City has become a major hot spot for the city’s real estate players, who are drawn to the neighborhood by the availability of large development sites and a robust demand for rental apartments, as The Real Deal reported.

Correction: A previously published version of this story identified the building as being located in Long Island City. In fact, it is in Astoria.