Meet the “A” in A&E Real Estate

From left: John Arrillaga Jr. (credit: New York Social Diary), Riverton Houses in Harlem and Douglas Eisenberg
From left: John Arrillaga Jr. (credit: New York Social Diary), Riverton Houses in Harlem and Douglas Eisenberg

A&E Real Estate Holdings, which has quietly grown into one of New York City’s top multifamily buyers in just a few years, has a secret up its sleeve: its co-founder.

While Douglas Eisenberg, the former Urban American Management executive, is known to run A&E, he shares ownership of the Midtown-based firm with John Arrillaga Jr., son of billionaire Silicon Valley real estate developer John Arrillaga.

John Arrillaga

John Arrillaga Sr.

Eisenberg teamed up with Arrillaga Jr. in 2011 to form A&E, which now has about $2 billion in assets and owns around 10,000 rental units throughout the city, according to sources. This year alone, the firm acquired more than $800 million in rental properties, including a 32-building portfolio across three boroughs and a $201 million city-brokered deal to buy the Riverton Houses in Harlem.

Despite these ambitious plays, A&E has flown under the radar, keeping its origins and heavyweight connections largely hidden from view.

Arrillaga Jr., a Northern California native, continues to serve as a principal at his father’s Palo Alto-based office development firm Peery Arrillaga. He previously worked at private equity firm Apollo Real Estate Advisers, now called AREA Property Partners. The latter firm aggressively bought rent-stabilized multifamily buildings in Manhattan and the outer boroughs during the mid-2000s boom, but took a hit following the downturn.

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His father, who Forbes estimated is worth $2.3 billion, is credited with buying California fruit orchards in the 1960s and converting the land to office parks that now house the likes of Apple, Google and LinkedIn. He is also a driving force and a big benefactor behind the expansion of his alma mater Stanford University, where the family name adorns several buildings.

A spokesperson for A&E said Arrillaga Jr. focuses on day-to-day operations, financings and acquisitions.  Arrillaga Jr. splits his time between New York and California, where he is involved with his family’s business as well as other non-real estate business ventures.

On paper, Eisenberg and Arrillaga Jr., who declined to comment, have several similarities. They are both in their mid-40s and heirs to a successful family real estate business that have since branched out on their own.

Eisenberg’s father, Philip Eisenberg, is a principal at West New York, N.J.-based Urban American, which owns tens of thousands of apartments in the New York area. Last year, the firm sold a stake in the nearly 4,000-unit Putnam portfolio to Brookfield Property Partners for $1.04 billion.

Adam Pincus contributed reporting.