The Real Deal New York

Sephardic Academy buys UES building with help from Syrian real estate players

Ben Ashkenazy, the Chera family among the financial backers
By Chava Gourarie | January 09, 2018 08:00AM

From left: 150 East 74th Street, Ben Ashkenazy and Daniel Levy

The Sephardic Academy of Manhattan bought a six-story building on the Upper East Side for $14 million to expand its program — with a helping hand from some familiar figures in New York real estate.

Daniel Levy, a partner at Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, is on the school’s board and was instrumental in getting the deal done, along with other members. “It was a collective effort,” Levy said, “We all helped the school acquire the building as a future home for its elementary school.”

Ben Ashkenazy, the billionaire founder and CEO of the company, Crown Acquisitions‘ Chera family and several other prominent real estate families from the Syrian-Jewish community contributed to the purchase.

Levy said his extended family has seven kids in the school.

The school began as an early childhood program in 2011, with plans to open an elementary school in the upcoming school year. It’s headed by Rabbi Elie Abadie, the longtime Rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue, which is frequented by members of the Syrian-Jewish community.

Abadie was ousted last year after a conflict with Lily Safra, widow to the synagogue’s namesake, and chair of the foundation that financed it, according to the New York Post. He has since started a breakaway synagogue, Congregation Shaare Mizrah, which is located in a Third Avenue building owned by Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities.

The school’s acquisition of the 11,850-square-foot building at 150 East 74th Street allows for the option to convert to a school or other nonprofit use, and comes with 23,000 buildable square feet.

The sellers are the Brandt family, which acquired the property in the 1980s. A team of Marcus & Millichap brokers represented both the buyer and the seller. Joe Koicim, Peter Von Der Ahe, David Lloyd and Danny Handweiler had the listing.