Astoria waterfront development site trades for $26.5M

From left: Arthur Mirante, 3-15 26th Avenue and Jon Epstein
From left: Arthur Mirante, 3-15 26th Avenue and Jon Epstein

Boris Aronov, co-developer of Tribeca’s 101 Leonard Street, has paid $26.5 million for a development site on the Astoria waterfront, according to city records filed Friday. The 160,000-square-foot lot at 3-15 26th Avenue was marketed last year for $80 million as being ripe for an 800,000-square-foot residential site, but it’s currently still zoned for manufacturing, and sources said that the low purchase price was due to uncertainty about when the site would be ready for a residential project.

The seller was Le Noble Lumber Company, according to public records, which purchased the site in 1984. Avison Young’s Jon Epstein, who represented Le Noble along with colleague Arthur Mirante, attributed the large gulf between the asking and selling price to the fact that Le Noble decide to sell the site “as-is,” rather than securing a zoning variance. This means Aronov will now have to handle that costly and time-consuming process if he wants to build apartments.

The site – which was featured in the 1992 sci-fi flop “Freejack,” which starred Rolling Stones legend Mick Jagger as a mercenary  — is currently home to a one-story building, but was once a lumber yard.

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Representatives for Le Noble declined to comment. John Maltz of commercial brokerage Greiner-Maltz was handling leasing at the site, but declined to comment on the deal.

A source familiar with the deal said that despite multiple bidders, the property had no interim uses without infrastructure upgrade (which could take up to seven years) that could support a purchase price over $30 million. To make a residential project viable, the city would have to build infrastructure such as a connection to the main road and sewage, the source added. Le Noble came close to a deal with a major movie studio, the source said, but the site was too small for such a use.

Aronov partnered with Setai Fifth Avenue developer Bizzi & Partners at 101 Leonard Street, a 66-unit condo conversion where sales kicked off in July 2013, as The Real Deal reported. As of December, more than 85 percent of the units had been sold.