The Real Deal New York

Joe Sitt’s Thor backed out of Caiola’s 25-building megadeal

Mogul made soft vow, but couldn't raise equity: sources; Blackstone now set to buy portfolio
By Mark Maurer | July 24, 2015 04:35PM

Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities backed out of a “soft contract” to buy the Caiola family’s 25-building rental portfolio, the same properties which Blackstone Group is now in hard contract to buy for nearly $700 million, The Real Deal has learned.

Thor signed a soft contract in January to pay $780 million for roughly 1,000 residential units in neighborhoods such as Chelsea and the Upper East Side, as TRD reported at the time. But sources familiar with negotiations said this week that Thor signed without receiving all the information about the terms of the deal and the properties. The firm could not raise the necessary equity, sources said.

Under the terms of a tentative soft contract, the down payment is returnable. Thor’s deposit was returned in full, sources said.

About two months ago, Thor was no longer vying for the properties, sources said. A spokesperson for Thor could not be immediately reached for comment.

Then, last month, Blackstone and minority partner Fairstead Capital agreed to pay a significantly lower price — about $690 million, sources said — for the package, as reported Wednesday. Upon closing, the acquisition will be one of New York City’s largest residential deals to date. A 200-unit rental property at 250 West 19th Street is among the buildings, which all have elevators.

It is unclear if brokers were involved in the deal.

Thor tends to take a prominent role early on in acquiring large portfolios, but then sometimes takes a backseat to other parties and keeps only a small stake.

Late last year, for example, Thor entered contract to buy 30 Park Avenue, and months later, a partnership between investor Rubin Schron, Sun Equity Partners and Beekman REIM closed on a majority stake in the 241-unit property for $194 million. Separately, Thor was said to be in contract to buy 212 Fifth Avenue, but Robert Gladstone’s Madison Equities and real estate investment firm Building and Land Technology closed on a majority stake in the building for $260 million. Thor retains small stakes in both properties.