NEW YORK — Looking to invest in New York real estate? Your answer should be “yes,” and specifically you should be looking at West and Central Harlem, according to Shimon Shkury, the real estate broker who has become the go-to man for many Israelis looking to get their own little piece of New York.
Shkury and his firm,Ariel Property Advisors, have been in business since 2011. The firm, which started with 10 employees, now has around 40-50 people working in their midtown Manhattan-based office. The fact that Shkury himself is Israeli tends to attract investors from Eretz, Shkury said, but not everyone at the firm is Israeli, and Shkury actually believes having local, native New Yorkers gives them an edge, he said.
“Israelis, like any other person, like to have someone they can trust,” Shkury said. “They like familiarity. We [Ariel PA] are a hub of information, and when investors see how entrepreneurial we are, they learn quickly.”
Ariel PA focuses on commercial and multi-family rental buildings in upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. In other words, the most of the up-and-coming areas of New York. In 2012, Ariel PA brokered $250 million in deals, the Wall Street Journal reported. In October 2013, the firm took in $648 million in gross consideration for multi-family buildings across all four boroughs —Ariel PA does not operate on Staten Island— a high mark for the firm on both a month-to-month and yearly comparison. In December, Ariel PA closed a $15 million deal on two buildings on west 126th street, one of the many areas Shkury touts as the up-and-coming Manhattan.
Shkury easily rattled off the statistics: Between 2002 and 2010 or so, New York gained 170,000 new residents. Between 2010 and 2012, it gained 140,000 new residents. “Today, residential demand is huge,” Shkury said. “It’s secure from a personal security level; [mayor Michael] Bloomberg balanced the budget, so we’re in great shape, and I don’t think [mayor-elect Bill] De Blasio will do anything to change that. Overall, New York is a very optimistic place.”
With Columbia University’s planned 17-acre campus, stretching primarily from 129th to 133rd Streets, Shkury predicts West, Central, and South Harlem are all areas to watch in terms of appreciated value. Further south, it’s Hudson Yards in the west 40’s. Outside of Manhattan, Shkury says, “Bushwick is the new Williamsburg,” meaning investors will soon start looking east of the hip, too-well-known, neighborhood to the next fixer-upper. In Queens, look to Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst or Jackson Heights. In the Bronx, East Fordham is the neighborhood to watch.
“New York was always a great place for business,” Shkury explained, “But back in the day, where were people living? In the suburbs.” When people started getting tired of having to take a train into the city for an hour, that’s when the city got interesting, real estate-wise.