Jared Kushner makes first big Queens buy

Developer pays $51M for four buildings in Astoria
By E.B. Solomont | January 09, 2015 12:33PM

UPDATED: 4:31 p.m., Jan. 9: Jared Kushner’s Kushner Companies made its first major acquisition in Queens, paying $51 million for a four-building, mixed-use portfolio in Astoria that includes 143 residential units and 11 commercial units, The Real Deal has learned.

The seller was RockFarmer Capital, an affiliate of Douglaston Realty Management, which bought the properties just over two years ago for $32 million.

“Astoria is just a really hot market,” said John Petras, co-principal of RockFarmer with George Michelis. RockFarmer tapped Aaron Jungreis and Michael Guttman of Rosewood Realty Group to test the market in July. “We had a handshake deal within four weeks,” said Petras. The deal closed Thursday night.

The four buildings in question are 21-80 38th Street, with 35 residential units and six commercial units; 21-81 38th Street, with 24 residential units and five commercial units; 23-05 30th Avenue, with 42 residential units, and 23-15 30th Avenue, with 42 residential units.

RockFarmer purchased the buildings in a joint venture with Rye, N.Y.-based CapRok Real Estate. The buildings were part of a 14-building portfolio sold by Dermot Property Associates for $190.5 million.

RockFarmer subsequently renovated the buildings and “repositioned” some units, Petras said, converting some one-bedroom apartments into small two-bedrooms. The buildings currently are fully occupied, and the average residential rent is $1,750 per month. The 11 commercial units vary in size, with rents ranging between $40 per square foot and $100 per square foot.

Kushner Cos. completed $2 billion in deals in 2014, including 2,000 multi-family apartments in New York City and Maryland, according to its website. Representatives for the firm didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last month, the developer paid $131.5 million for a 16-building portfolio with 291 rental apartments and five retail properties, including 14 buildings in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn, where Kushner’s other projects include a collection of townhouses in Brooklyn Heights and a high-tech office complex in the former Watchtower buildings in Dumbo.

Meanwhile, Kushner and KABR Group are developing a tower at 30 Journal Square; they’re also paying $27 million for a vacant, two-acre Jersey City site.

Petras said Kushner’s interest speaks to the strength of the market in Queens. “It bodes well,” he said, “for where Astoria is going.”

The buildings are located about a half mile away from RockFarmer’s Astoria Lights a rental to co-op conversion with 167 units, including 60 co-ops that have been sold.

Correction: Astoria Lights is a rental to co-op conversion.