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Feb.February 15, 2022 11:00 AM

Hollywood on the Hudson: How ‘Orange is the New Black’ revived a historic Harlem apartment building

The Beaumont at 730 Riverside Drive

You might recognize the apartments inside The Beaumont on Riverside Drive — the Harlem property that was once home to “Invisible Man” author Ralph Ellison, U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits and singer Marian Anderson — because you’ve seen more than half of them on episodes of “Orange is the New Black.”

And the reason millions of viewers got a sneak peak inside the historic building was the quick thinking of Citadel Realty Services President and CEO Stephen Shapiro, who hatched the idea of renting to a movie studio after being hired to manage it.

“Look, you can’t make money for a client if you’re not thinking outside the box,” said Shapiro, who’s been advising real estate investors both large and small on how to profit from distressed and under-performing properties for more than 50 years. “And in our business, it takes someone with a wealth of market knowledge, depth of insights that is second to none and a great deal of chutzpah. That’s what we bring to the table.”

Take The Beaumont. It was part of a $1.1 billion portfolio purchased by investment bank Hudson Advisors from the Allied Irish Bank.

The problem: 35 of its 65 units were vacant, and it wasn’t earning enough to cover the cost of operating the building — let alone the money needed to fix it up.

“Their ultimate goal was to sell it at the highest price,” said Shapiro. “We were brought on to figure out a way to make the building pay for its own repairs while keeping the 25 units vacant.”

Shapiro’s answer seems simple in hindsight: Turn it into Hollywood on the Hudson.

“I knew there was a big demand for spaces like this to get television shows and movies shot on location,” Shapiro said. “So I called the New York State Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development and before we knew it, ‘Orange is the New Black’ was knocking at my door.”

With the show in production, the money for the renovations started flowing in — and not just for the building’s owners.

Many residents living in the remaining 30 units were hired by the film crew to assist with production.

“Everybody won: tenants, film producers and the building’s owner,” Shapiro said.

When the film shoot was completed, the necessary repairs were made, and the building was ready to sell.

End result: The building was sold for a substantial profit.

It’s another example of why Shapiro is known in the industry as the “fixer” — the guy to call when there’s a problem.

“You don’t do this for 50 years without knowing a thing or two about New York City real estate,” he said. “It’s a combination of experience, street smarts, and connecting the dots.”

Founded in 1962, Citadel Realty Services helped facilitate the construction of landmark properties including New York’s Lincoln Center, Peter Cooper Village, Stuyvesant Town, and portions of Columbia University. Along with helping estate family foundations and small building owners, our notable clients have included Tishman-Speyer, Citibank, Solow Development Corporation, Sterling Equities-Gerald D. Hines Interests, Park Avenue Synagogue, and St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Have a money-losing property that is giving you headaches? Call Steve today at (917) 660-1223 and he’ll come up with a strategy to solve your problem. Or email him at [email protected]
Website: citadelre.com


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