Vantage and Area sell portfolio at a loss for $65M

Affiliate of New York-based Sentinel Real Estate is one of three buyers, sources say

A portfolio of eight Upper Manhattan apartment buildings owned by landlord Vantage Properties and investment partner Area Property Partners sold last month for approximately $65 million, sources familiar with the deal said, far below what the partners paid for the properties in 2007. The three buyers included John Streicker’s Midtown-based Sentinel Real Estate, Queens-based Alma Realty and Onex Real Estate Partners, based in Midtown, several sources said.

The eight rent-regulated buildings were sold on May 16, and the deeds for five of the properties were recorded yesterday, city public records show. Three have not yet been recorded.

The sale was not a typical transaction. Representatives for the bond holders of the $70 million first mortgage sold the note to an entity affiliated with the buyers for approximately $65 million, and at the same time Vantage and Area sold the individual deeds for a nominal sum, several of the sources said.

The eight buildings, known as the Broadway Portfolio, have a combined 459 apartments and about 25,000 square feet of retail and professionals space, marketing material from investment brokerage Eastern Consolidated shows.

Sentinel bought 80 Fort Washington Avenue, 86 Fort Washington Avenue, 66-72 Fort Washington Avenue and 884 Riverside Drive, which have a combined 244 residential units, according to several sources.

Alma and an unnamed partner acquired 3885 Broadway, 4455 Broadway and 3915 Broadway, with a combined 151 residential units; and Onex, which had been a holder of mezzanine debt, took title to the 64-unit 3900 Broadway, one of the insiders said.

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Vantage declined to comment. Representatives for Area, the bondholders, Alma and Onex did not respond to requests for comment.

Most of the buildings are concentrated near the hospital complex of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights.

Vantage and Area purchased the eight buildings in January 2007 for a combined $87.7 million, and took out a $70 million mortgage, which was later securitized. They defaulted on the $70 million loan and the bondholders sued in New York State Supreme Court in October 2011 to foreclose. Last year, Eastern Consolidated began marketing the note.

The Washington, D.C.-based trade association National Multi Housing Council ranked Sentinel as the 38th largest apartment owner in the country, with 33,500 units as of Jan. 1. Alma Realty has been growing rapidly over the past year, according to Real Estate Weekly, making several acquisitions, including buying a seven-buildings package of former Vantage apartment buildings earlier this year.

Vantage and Area have been fighting lenders on a small number of their properties. In the last month a receiver was appointed to oversee one of its distressed historic Harlem buildings at 730 Riverside Drive where the firm is facing a foreclose suit, The Real Deal reported.

Eastern Consolidated brokers Peter Hauspurg, David Schechtman and Lipa Lieberman led a team that brought the notes to market and completed the sale.

“The note sold for above $65 million and Eastern and its client were happy with the result,” Schechtman said. He declined to comment beyond that.

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