The condos beckon: Arthur Becker going it alone on Tribeca boutique project

Investor behind Michael Stern, Kevin Maloney aiming for $53M sellout at 8-unit 465 Washington

Rendering of 465 Washington Street and Arthur Becker
Rendering of 465 Washington Street and Arthur Becker

Tech mogul Arthur Becker’s been the quiet money behind some of the city’s biggest developers, including Michael Stern, Kevin Maloney and Robert Gladstone. But this time, he’s putting his own name on a condominium project.

According to an offering plan filed last week with the New York State Attorney General’s office, the investor-turned-developer is planning an eight-unit building at 465 Washington Street in Tribeca, with a projected sellout of $52.5 million.

In an interview at his art studio next door, Becker told The Real Deal that 465 Washington will be an “artisanal, boutique building” with interiors designed by Paris Forino.

“I bought it as a primer,” said Becker, who began his career as a homebuilder, then operated a macadamia orchard in Hawaii before gradually moving into tech and finance. “I like this section of Tribeca. It’s a size I can manage.”

When complete, 465 Washington will have seven simplex apartments and one penthouse duplex, ranging from 2,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet, he said. Prices will range from $2,200 per square foot to $3,200 per square foot. Units will ask between $5 million and $14 million for the penthouse.

In 2012, Becker bought 465 Washington for $6.1 million from architect-turned-developer Peter Moore, who faced a $4.7 million foreclosure suit after defaulting on a loan from VFC Partners.

To expand the five-story building to 10 stories, Becker also bought development rights from the owners of an adjacent building at 471 Washington for an unknown sum. Property records show Becker also paid just over $1 million for a 30-foot easement from the Ponte family, owners of 502-506 Canal Street, which backs up to Becker’s property.

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According to research firm Real Capital Analytics, Becker has invested in $550 million worth of projects in New York City to date.  It’s not clear, however, how much capital he’s deployed.

Becker’s highest-profile bet is on JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s Billionaires’ Row condo supertower at 111 West 57th Street, where he said he was the first financial backer. The developers have completed a sales gallery at the project, but have put sales on hold. Becker said the feeling is there’s not enough urgency among buyers to justify a full-on sales effort now. “We felt like it was too early,” he said.

Becker was a financial backer of PMG and Madison Equities’ condo development at 10 Sullivan Street, and assumed ownership of three adjacent townhouses at 30, 40 and 50 Sullivan in exchange for his stake in the project.

Becker was also among the investors who bought and sold an assemblage at 251-259 Third Avenue in Gramercy to Alfa Development [TRDataCustom] for $70 million.

Despite the slowdown in luxury product, Becker is optimistic about 465 Washington, where he’s in the market for a $25 million construction loan. “I like the micro neighborhood,” he said, stressing that he’ll also be selling eight units not 50. With two years of construction planned, he has time.

“I had the capacity, I had the deal flow,” he said, explaining why he never sought the spotlight. “Nothing changed, but I have a project I’d like to get more exposure for.”

(To see a selection of properties owned by JDS Development Group or Property Markets Group, click here)