East Harlem building sales spike, spurred by demand for apartments

From left: CBRE's Lon Rubackin and East Harlem
From left: CBRE's Lon Rubackin and East Harlem

East Harlem is drawing more developers for residential projects, the New York Times reported. And the attraction is strong: students at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work need housing, as do young professionals and families pushed out of the Upper East Side by high rents.

Last year, 15 development sites in East Harlem sold — nine more than in 2011. And though the number of multifamily properties sold held steady at 43 in both 2011 and 2012, the dollar volume for the sales spiked almost 140 percent during those two years, from $120 million to $286.7 million from $120 million.

Sharon Kahen and Haim Levi are a pair of developers who closed on an East Harlem plot not long ago. The two plan to build a 60-unit market-rate rental property at 119th Street and Third Avenue. The 12-story buildin will have studios, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and commercial space.

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Besides residential construction, the neighborhood is seeing office development. A $16 million renovation of the landmarked Corn Exchange Building on 125th Street is waiting for final Landmarks Preservation Commission approvals.

There are pockets of struggling developments in the neighborhood, though. Vornado Realty Trust owns a parcel at 1800 Park Avenue, where it planned on building a mixed-use development before the recession. The project has not yet come to fruition and Vornado did not indicate whether the site would be developed sometime soon.

Retail is struggling, too. For example, the East River Plaza shopping center on 116th Street has not yet “transformed the neighborhood as quickly as some of us expected,” Lon Rubackin of CBRE told the Times. [NYT]Zachary Kussin