Large, low-key landlord snags UWS building for $100M+

Olnick Organization is suddenly getting more active

Seth Schochet, Drew Goldsmith and 201 West 77th Street (Credit: Google Maps)
Seth Schochet, Drew Goldsmith and 201 West 77th Street (Credit: Google Maps)

One of the city’s “silent giant” landlords is starting to get busy.

The Olnick Organization, which owns thousands of rental apartments and more than 1 million square feet of commercial space across the tri-state area, closed earlier this week on the purchase of a 125-unit multifamily building on the Upper West Side for more than $100 million, sources told The Real Deal.

The family firm, which began in the 1940s, paid $106.4 million to buy the 16-story pre-war elevator building at 201 West 77th Street, at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue. The seller was an entity tied to the family of late real estate investor Charles Goldner.

Representatives for Olnick and the seller could not be immediately reached for comment. A CBRE team of Darcy Stacom, Bill Shanahan, David Fowler and Ryan Silber at CBRE negotiated the deal on behalf of the sellers. The brokers could not be reached either.

Olnick financed the purchase with a $50 million loan from First Republic Bank.

The building at the corner of 77th Street contains mostly market-rate apartments, with less than 20 percent of the units subject to rent restrictions. Olnick is planning to make improvements to the property and hold it for the long term, according to a source familiar with the company’s investment plan.

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The purchase is the largest recent investment for a firm that has a significant portfolio, but has mostly remained quiet for the past 20 years.

Family patriarch Robert Olnick founded the company in 1946 as a developer of housing in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. In 1952 his company built the 1,700-unit Lenox Terrace complex in Harlem.

Olnick in 1961 bought a controlling interest in Starrett Brothers & Eken — developer of the Empire State Building and Brooklyn’s Starrett City — where he served as CEO until he resigned in 1976. Along with his partners Samuel Lefrak and Lester Fisher, Olnick was among the first developers to build housing at Battery Park City.

He died in 1986 at the age of 74.

In the 2000s, though, the company was largely content to manage its sizable portfolio. The Olnick Organization’s last significant acquisitions were in 2001, when it purchased the 11-story Flatiron District office building at 130 Fifth Avenue and the 15-story commercial building at 270 Lafayette Street in Soho.

But recently Olnick has been more active. Under Seth Schochet, its president, the company reintroduced a long-sought plan over the summer to invest in Lenox Terrace and add 1,600 apartments to the complex.

Last year Olnick hired the Lefrak Organization’s Drew Goldsmith to serve as vice president in charge of acquisitions and development. Last month it bought the newly constructed Perch Harlem passive house at 542 West 153rd Street in Hamilton Heights for $19 million.