Former East Village home of artist Frank Stella sells for $22M

Milan Associates buys pair of once-distressed buildings on single lot from Infinity

Jan.January 25, 2016 03:00 PM

UPDATED, 4:59 p.m., Jan. 25: It may have been the incubator for abstract works of art, but last week’s sale of artist Frank Stella’s longtime East Village studio is all too real.

Investor Arthur Minerof’s Milan Associates picked up two buildings on a single tax lot, one of them the landmarked, longtime home and workplace of the celebrated artist.

The sites hold back-to-back three-story buildings at 128 East 13th Street and 123 East 12th Street, located between Third and Fourth avenues. Minerof bought them late last week from Infinity Real Estate LLC, a subsidiary of Steven Kassin’s Infinity Group, for $21.5 million, or $1,670 per square foot, sources said.

The Beaux-Arts Carriage House On 13th Street was constructed in 1904 and housed the Van Tassel & Kearney Auction Mart, one of the city‘s top sellers of horses and horse-drawn carriages. In 1978, Stella bought it, and lived and worked there until 2005. There are high ceilings throughout the home, particularly on the second floor, where ceilings reach 30 feet.

Joseph Sabbagh’s Union Square-based firm Ultimate Realty acquired both buildings for $10 million in 2005, with plans to construct a seven-story condominium building on the site in Their Place. But Ultimate switched gears in the end, selling off all 30,000 square feet of the properties’ combined air rights to the nonprofit Trust for Architectural Easements.

By 2012, the properties fell into foreclosure. Infinity bought them for $9 million at an auction. Later that year, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the carriage house a landmark. It had been calendared since 2006.

Ultimate entered contract in June 2015 to buy the buildings back for north of $16 million, sources said. The firm then flipped the contract to Milan, with the deal closing for $21.5 million, sources said.

The mixed-use Townhouse On 12th Street, which was vacant when Infiniti bought it, currently houses Alliance Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu martial arts studio on the ground floor and a duplex rental apartment above it.

Meanwhile, the 13th Street carriage house is triple-net-leased to dance shoes manufacturer Capezio Ballet Makers, which uses the full building for the dance studio Peridance. Capezio’s triple-net lease expires in 2028, with a five-year option.

Minerof, a Flatiron District-based investor, is planning a long-term hold of the properties, which are not connected, sources said. He is also active in South Florida, where he recently completed the restoration of a landmarked Palm Beach house.

A Cushman & Wakefield team led by Matthew Nickerson and James Nelson brokered the deal. Nickerson and Nelson could not be immediately reached, while Kassin and Sabbagh declined to comment.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified one of the brokers on the deal. A Cushman & Wakefield team brokered it. 

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