Alexander Rovt ramps up real estate buying outside New York

The billionaire and his sons have 50 percent stakes in hotels in Toronto, Budapest

Alexander Rovt
Alexander Rovt

With Manhattan commercial property reaching record highs, fertilizer billionaire Alexander Rovt and his sons are looking to expand their real estate empire beyond New York City.

The Rovts are 50 percent owners of two hotels abroad: the Aria Hotel Budapest, which opened last year, and Hotel X in Toronto, which will launch at the end of this year. At 406 rooms, it is slated to be Canada’s largest hotel.

With Hotel X, Rovt moved quickly and cut a $50 million check for it without visiting Toronto, Henry Kallan, the developer and president of the Library Hotels Collection, who sold a stake in the project to the Rovts, told the Wall Street Journal.

With high prices for New York properties, the Ukrainian-born magnate expects a correction in the next two years, his son, Maxwell Rovt, told the Journal. In 2015, $74.5 billion worth of New York property traded hands, according to Cushman & Wakefield. This smashed the previous record of $62 million in 2007.

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Rovt, who made his fortune in fertilizer, paid $303 million in cash for the 37-story, landmarked tower at 14 Wall Street in 2012. After $60 million in repairs, the building, which has 1.1 million square feet, is now 90 percent leased, the Journal reported.

Last May, Rovt told The Real Deal that he set aside up to $250 million for two planned four-star hotels, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. He also co-financed Spruce Capital Partners’ $58 million acquisition of a 127-unit rental building 1209 Dekalb Avenue in 2014. He partnered with Spruce again for a condominium development at 151 East 78th Street and invested $8 million in GFI Capital’s planned Ace Hotel at 61 Bond Street.

He bought aggressively after the real estate crash and today owns about 35 buildings, mostly in New York, the Journal reported.

Unlike Rovt’s decisive and quick moves, his son Maxwell told the Journal, “I do prefer to take my time doing my homework on a particular project.” [WSJ]Dusica Sue Malesevic