Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers are renters, and the more than 2 million rental units they inhabit are owned by a wide variety of entities, from small-property owners to notorious slumlords to massive corporations.
Even in a world of transparent public records, taking stock of the city’s rental landscape is a daunting task. Anonymous LLCs and complex ownership structures make the task seems nearly impossible — though many have tried.
Building on our previous efforts to enumerate the city’s largest property owners, The Real Deal has used the same data to rank rental property owners in particular. Registration data from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development was used to identify rental properties.
What we found was a landscape in flux, with big ups and downs over the past year. A&E Real Estate Holdings jumped into fourth place with big acquisitions in both Queens and Manhattan, while the Blackstone Group doubled its lead with its first outer borough rental buy.
These are the five largest private rental landlords in NYC:
1) Blackstone Group
Estimated holdings: 14,120 units across 79 buildings
The world’s largest alternative investment firm first made its mark on the New York rental space in 2015, when it acquired the troubled Stuyvesant Town complex for $5.3 billion. The massive property, which includes neighboring Peter Cooper Village, is home to 11,244 rental units across more than separate 50 buildings — enough to vault Blackstone into the city’s top five on its own.
The Stuy Town deal overshadowed another major deal Blackstone had made just months prior, when it bought up 25 apartment buildings owned by the Caiola family, totaling around 1,000 units.
Though Blackstone has spent the last year or so selling off pieces of the Caiola portfolio, its appetite for new acquisitions hasn’t diminished. Just last month, the firm acquired the 1,327-unit Parker Towers rental complex in Forest Hills, Queens for $500 million, its first rental property outside of Manhattan.
In addition to large complexes like Stuy Town, Parker and Kips Bay Court, Blackstone owns a smattering of rental buildings in Chelsea and the Upper East Side. This January, the company also acquired a stake in several A&E properties in upper Manhattan.
2) Cammeby’s International Group
Estimated holdings: 12,179 units across 240 buildings
Founded in 1967 by real estate mogul Rubin Schron, Cammeby’s International Group has amassed an extensive portfolio over the past half century, with by far the largest number of rental buildings among the city’s top landlords.
While Cammeby’s most prominent rental property may be the Monterey, a 29-story, 522-unit rental tower on the Upper East Side, the bulk of the company’s rental holdings is spread far out in western Queens in southern Brooklyn, with smaller clusters in Astoria and the Bronx.
The largest single cluster of Cammeby’s properties is a low-profile swathe of the Fresh Meadows neighborhood in Queens, which stretches from 64th to 73rd Avenue and from 185th to 197th Street, and includes 131 buildings with 3,024 apartments.
The company has recently begun building its own buildings as well, as Schron’s sons have taken on a bigger role in determining the company’s direction. In 2015, Avi Schron filed plans for a 41-story tower at 532 Neptune Avenue, which will be Coney Island’s tallest tower.
3) LeFrak Organization
Estimated holdings: 12,111 units across 85 buildings
Headed by one of the few people Donald Trump has referred to as a “best friend,” Richard LeFrak, the LeFrak Organization has been a force in the New York rental world for generations. Richard’s father, Samuel, was one of Fred Trump’s biggest competitors when it came to building apartments across the city.
The organization’s most prominent properties include the eponymous LeFrak City in Queens, which spans 19 buildings totaling 4,392 units alongside the Long Island Expressway, and the six-building, 1,712-unit Gateway Plaza complex in Battery Park City.
Much like Cammeby’s, with whom the organization is neck and neck in our rankings, the LeFrak Organization is going through a bit of a generational transition. LeFrak’s sons Harry and Jamie have started hiring brand-name architects and moving into upscale development, though rental remains the company’s focus.
Outside of the city, LeFrak is currently undertaking a major development at the Newport site in Jersey City, as well as the mixed-use SoLe Mia project in Miami.
4) A&E Real Estate Holdings
Estimated holdings: 9,950 units across 194 buildings
The newest of New York’s top landlords, A&E was founded in 2011 by Douglas Eisenberg, who previously worked at his father’s Urban American Management. Since then, the company has gone on a remarkable buying spree, amassing a portfolio of nearly 200 rental buildings in the space of just seven years.
A&E’s largest acquisition so far has been the 7-building, 1,229-unit Riverton Houses complex in Harlem, by the Harlem River. The company bought the property for $200 million and will receive over $100 million in tax breaks in exchange for keeping most of the units affordable.
As can be seen on our map, much of A&E’s portfolio is spread across Queens, from Astoria to Flushing. The company added to that this May with a $118.5 million portfolio purchase of six buildings in Elmhurst and Flushing, totaling 428 units.
Eisenberg has also been busy in Manhattan, picking up the 420-unit Stonehenge Village in April and 266-unit Glenn Gardens earlier this month, both located on the Upper West Side. All in all, this year’s flurry of activity has managed to push A&E into fourth place on our list, overtaking the Related Companies.
5) Related Companies
Estimated holdings: 9,367 units across 90 buildings
The developer behind Hudson Yards and the soon-to-be Deutsche Bank Center closed out TRD’s ranking of rental landlords. Of the top five, the Related Companies has the most holdings in the Bronx — though the company has been looking to scale back in the borough recently.
Related’s Bronx portfolio got a big boost in 2014, when it joined with city pension funds to acquire 35 West Bronx buildings with more than 2,000 apartments units for $270 million. A year later, Related bought the 355-unit property at 2001-2045 Story Avenue for $66 million, the company’s largest property in the borough.
Citywide, Related’s single largest property is the massive Manhattan Plaza in Midtown West, which holds 1,689 units — 70 percent of which are reserved for performing artists. Further afield, Related also owns the 26-story, 602-unit Ocean Park Apartments complex in Far Rockaway.
Blackstone confirmed TRD’s data. Cammeby’s declined to comment, while the LeFrak Organization, A&E and Related did not respond to requests for comment.