UPDATED, 12:18 p.m., June 24: Real estate investor Arthur Shapolsky is in contract to buy a corner development site across from Edward Minskoff’s 51 Astor Place for roughly $50 million.
Shapolsky – whose father, Sam, built and owned several hundred apartments on the Lower East Side from the 1930s through the 1950s – intends to buy three properties at the corner of Third Avenue and St. Marks Place: 23 Third Avenue, 27 Third Avenue and 3 St. Marks Place.
The sellers are members of the Gabay family, whose patriarch opened a discount fashion outlet at the corner property in 1970. Shapolsky confirmed the agreement, but declined to comment on his plans for the site, which could accommodate a 41,500-square-foot commercial building or a residential one of roughly half the size.
A source familiar with the property said the price is around $50 million.
The site’s most visible tenant is a McDonald’s in a taxpayer at 27 Third Avenue. It sits across the street from Minskoff’s office building at 51 Astor, nicknamed the IBM Watson Building for its anchor tenant.
Those who know Shapolsky described him as a colorful character, and suggested taking his intent to purchase with a grain of salt.
“Is he flipping? Is he buying? He’s an in-and-out kind of guy,” said one broker who has worked with the investor. “Does he have properties? Yes. Is he a go-to buyer? Absolutely not.”
Quite possibly adding to Shapolsky’s reputation is his tendency to take some big names to court, including the Zeckendorfs and Gary Barnett.
Shapolsky sued Barnett in 2013, claiming the Extell Development chief owed him $310,000 from the sale of 734 and 736 Broadway. Shapolsky agreed to drop the suit in early 2014.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the year the Gabay Family opened its store at the corner of Third Avenue and St. Marks Place.