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Housing complex sale likely soon

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Real estate investor Rubin Schron is close to finalizing a deal to buy out his partners and become the sole owner of Fresh Meadows Apartments, one of the largest residential developments in New York City, a source with knowledge of the deal said.

The complex, which was put up for sale in March, is under contract and valued at between $250 million and $300 million, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

The property was last sold in 1997 for about $180 million by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to a partnership that included developer Steven Witkoff, Insignia Financial, Lehman Brothers and Schron.

The sprawling Fresh Meadows complex, built in the 1940s by New York Life, covers the equivalent of more than 106 football fields along the Long Island Expressway. Its 140 buildings are home to 3,285 families.

Monthly rents, ranging from $900 to $2,000, are mostly below market value due to rent stabilization requirements. Average rents are 26 percent below market value.

The change in ownership was not expected to affect these rates, the source said. The current management company, Insignia/ESG, will continue to oversee the buildings.

Connie Clausen, a Fresh Meadows Tenants Association board member, said the group has not yet met to discuss the impending sale.

“We’ve been more concerned with the impact of a potential major capital improvement — a new heating and hot water system,” she said.

Clausen was disappointed with one aspect of the deal. Speaking as a resident, not for the board, she said she was “unhappy that Insignia/ESG will continue to be the management company.” The tenants association experienced problems with management five years ago over the last capital improvement project in the complex.     If the sale goes through as expected, Schron will add Fresh Meadows to his vast collection of residential and commercial real estate holdings in the New York area.

Last year, he paid more than $60 million for Franklin Avenue Plaza, an office complex in Garden City, L.I. He is also a part owner of the Woolworth Building in Lower Manhattan.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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