CWCapital to take title to Riverton Houses [UPDATE]

Riverton Houses, Steven Sinatra (top) of Greenberg Traurig, and Howard Comet (bottom) of Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Update (1:50 p.m.): David Bistricer’s Morgan Capital was the other bidder. Comments regarding and from Bistricer added.

Special servicer CWCapital Asset Management won the bidding this morning to take title to the Riverton Houses in Harlem at a price of $125 million, following a short bidding war with an attorney representing a company controlled by real estate investor David Bistricer, called Morgan Capital.

About 75 people, including brokers, potential buyers and residents of the 12 13-story apartment buildings, attended the brief auction in the rotunda of the State Supreme Court building at 60 Centre Street.

The property has a loan with a judgment valued at $240.6 million that is held in a commercial mortgaged-backed security. CWCapital is the special servicer for the loan.

The value of the complex rose and fell steeply in recent years. Developer Laurence Gluck bought the 1,223-unit Complex Between 135th Street and 139th Street and Fifth Avenue and the Harlem River for $131 million in August 2005. Less than two years later, in January 2007, the apartment buildings were priced at $340 million. But in September 2009, real estate finance data firm Trepp reported the property was worth just $108 million.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Attorney Steven Sinatra, a shareholder at law firm Greenberg Traurig, made the first bid representing Bistricer’s Morgan Capital, for $50 million. Bistricer tried and after fierce community and political opposition
failed to buy Brooklyn’s Starrett City in 2007 for $1.3 billion. He was quickly matched by Howard Comet, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, representing CWCapital, for $55 million.

The bidding continued for several minutes in increments of $1 million to $9 million. After Comet made a bid for $120 million, Sinatra countered with $120.1 million after conferring with several individuals.

Comet came back with $125 million, and Sinatra said, “We’re done.”

Bistricer, managing member of Morgan Capital, said in an interview today that he thought $125 million was “a fair price.”

He would not explain why he would not bid higher, but noted Gluck bought it for less and poured millions into refurbishing it.

“It is too complicated to get into that kind of thing. It was a complicated transaction. It was a fair price,” he said. “[Gluck] did a very nice job improving the property.”

Original publication date
12:15 p.m., March 11, 2010