Zell eyes land in Financial District

Sam Zell

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Equity Residential is eyeing a vacant piece of land in the Financial District, a sign that the Chicago-based apartment building operator believes the New York market is on the rebound. Sam Zell, Equity’s chairman, is one of several investors planning to bid on a development site at 133-135 Greenwich Street during a bankruptcy auction scheduled for Wednesday, with the minimum bid starting at $14.5 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. The site was purchased in 2007 for $45 million by a subsidiary of Ofek International Real Estate, an Israeli company that was forced to seek bankruptcy protection following the real estate downturn and the death of its chief executive, Elie Berdugo. Ofek paid about $288 per developable square foot for the site, which currently could support a 156,000-square-foot mixed-use building. If the site goes for the minimum bid, the buyer would be paying about $92 per square foot. But investors could bid more at the auction, or Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, which holds a $39 million mortgage on the site, could decide to reject the bids and hold on to the property. [WSJ]