Bronx housing market boom

A new report says over $1 billion in multifamily Bronx properties changed ownership in 2014, including this apartment complex at 2160 Matthews Avenue, where residents complained of broken elevators and shoddy management under previous ownership.
Photo by Walter Pofeldt

The Bronx housing market has never been hotter.

Thousands of Bronxites have new landlords in 2014, as investors poured over $1 billion into the housing market in the first half of the year alone, according to a new report.

Two massive sales of multi-family home portfolios buoyed the spike. Developer Related Companies snapped up a package of 35 buildings in the north and west Bronx, made up of more than 2,000 apartment units, at a price tag of $253 million, according to the report from Ariel Property Advisors.

Big deals all over

The experts who penned the report say the boom is just getting started.

“In the Bronx, you’re seeing a higher yield of investment, especially in the multifamily sector,” said Scot Hirschfeld, a vice president at Ariel.

Related bought the buildings — including sites on Valentine Avenue, University Avenue and Fulton Street — from a firm headed by real estate mogul Stanley Wasserman.

The other massive 2014 housing deal came in Pelham Parkway, where a mystery new property owner took over four elevator apartment buildings for over $52 million total, and $172,000 per apartment.

Who bought the four buildings remains unclear. The new landlord for 2160 Matthews Avenue, 1135 Pelham Parkway North, 1130 Pelham Parkway South and 1540 Pelham Parkway is not listed in any property records, and a press release from the lawyers who handled the sale, Besen and Associates, declined to identify the owner.

The folks at Ariel Property said such a large sale in Pelham Parkway is rare for the area.

“You don’t see too many transactions in that neighborhood,” Hirschfeld said.

‘Affordable’ housing alarm

But not everyone was crowing with the news of surging real estate deals.

A prominent low and mid-income housing builder sounded the alarm that the booming market could price out families from their neighborhoods.

“In light of the explosive growth of real estate investment in the Bronx, there is a clear need to quickly create, preserve, and secure affordable housing in the borough, so that all residents can enjoy the Bronx’s comeback,” said Nancy Biberman, president of the Bronx affordable housing building group Whedco.

“We’ve seen too many times – from Brooklyn, to Queens, and Upper Manhattan – that a surge in ‘investment’ is too often followed by displacement of low-income residents from their own neighborhoods.” Biberman added.

Fixing up new digs

Hirshfeld said higher rent in some units is a natural part of the market — though many rent stablizations are in place to protect residents.

“Any landlord, no matter who it is, is going to try to make money on their investment, whether its by increasing revenues or decreasing expenses,” he said.But he added that new property owners often put money into the buildings, improving life for residents.

One such example is at recently snapped up 2160 Matthews Avenue.

Property records show that the seller was Bernard Putter, who was accused in December 2013 by residents and local elected officials of stranding residents by not fixing an elevator for three days.

When a reporter swung by the property this week, construction workers were fixing up the roof and building facade.

“You want someone replacing the roof, the leaks, making sure the property and electric works,” said Hirschfeld, the property advisor. “If these companies are making improvements to the property, that’s good for everyone.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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