Cayre, Adjmi to pay $23M for popular Bronx retail: sources

Once-distressed site belongs to owner of Conway Stores chain

2952 Third Avenue (Photo credit: PropertyShark)
2952 Third Avenue (Photo credit: PropertyShark)

Two Manhattan investors known for their retail holdings, Bobby Cayre and Alex Adjmi, inked a contract last week to pay approximately $23.2 million for a large retail building in the Hub, the South Bronx’s main shopping district, sources familiar with the transaction told The Real Deal.

Cayre, head of Aurora Capital Associates and Adjmi, president of A&H Acquisitions, are frequent partners. They agreed to buy 2952 Third Avenue, which PropertyShark shows includes about 175,699 square feet of retail space on five floors. The building is located between 152nd and 153rd streets, and has an alternate address of 661-663 Bergen Avenue.

The seller was an affiliate of Richard Cohen’s discount clothing retailer Conway Stores, although Cohen is expected to retain a minority interest in the deal, insiders said. Cohen purchased the property in 2002 for an undisclosed sum, and then took out a $17.5 million loan in June 2008 from New York Community Bank.

In 2011, the property owner fell behind on mortgage payments and the Downtown-based opportunistic debt buyer Bluestone Group acquired the defaulted $17.5 million loan in December that year, city property records show. Bluestone filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in February 2012 to foreclose on the loan.

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In November 2012, Bluestone and Cohen signed a forbearance agreement, in which he agreed to make an initial payment of $625,000 followed by monthly payments of $100,000, court records show. The forbearance agreement is set to expire this October. Even with that agreement in place, this past June, a Bronx judge awarded Bluestone the right to sell the property at a foreclosure auction.

With the Cayre and Adjmi deal, Bluestone will receive approximately $23 million, at least $5.5 million above the face value of the loan the firm acquired in 2011.

Indeed, the sale underscores the rise in retail values during the recovery, not only in Manhattan but also in the Bronx — enough that a buyer wants to acquire a property that only two years earlier fell into foreclosure. However, the acquisition was seen as a good fit for Adjmi and Cayre, who frequently construct or reconstruct properties, an industry source said.

Current tenants include Conway, with more than half the retail space, as well as discount clothing retailer Rainbow, owned by the Chehebar family, which also owns real estate in New York. Another store is leased by local retailer Mr. Discount. Conway is not paying rent but is covering the $100,000 monthly payments under the forbearance agreement.

Eli Tabak, a principal with Bluestone, did not respond to a request for comment. Cayre and a representative for Adjmi declined to comment.

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