Not for the Wahba brothers, but this is a real estate blog and I’m delighted to have real estate news to report and comment on instead of reflecting on personal loss and tragedies. The Byram South Water Street condos are officially up for sale. In fact, the project’s been shopped around for over a year, but it sounds like the hard-money lenders are finally getting serious.
Kennedy Funding foreclosed on the project this spring as buyers failed to materialize for the luxury units originally tagged at $2 million each.
Brothers John Wahba, 22, and James Wahba, 25, [I believe they're older than that now - ED] spent 30 months getting planning and zoning approvals when they first proposed the project eight years ago. Finally, in 2005, they received the go-ahead to construct three condominium buildings on South Water Street. Work began on the first structure, one that would contain six units.
They planned 20 luxury units. But only six of the 20 were completed, and none of those sold.
Bienko believes the property will sell to an investor.
“We have had a lot of interest since we foreclosed on the property from numerous developers and investors,” he said. “I think it is going to continue to attract interest. Greenwich is always Greenwich, people want to live there,” he said. “The current units are impressive, they are beautiful and they could be a great opportunity for someone.”
The property and the six luxury condominiums are being sold as one. The individual condos are not for sale, Bienko said.
Nancy Healy, a partner at Shore and Country Properties, said the original price tag was too high for the neighborhood and it far outstripped other properties for sale in Byram. She also said the using a luxury development project to jumpstart revitalization of a former industrialized area like Byram may have been too aggressive.
“To start with one grand project is very enthusiastic,” she said. “I know it is fine to be revitalized, but South Water Street is not a street that had anything else to compare with that price point they were asking.”
The Wahbas could not be reached for comment.
My personal feeling, expressed here many times, is that the Byram community missed a real opportunity fighting the Wahba brothers’ original plan which could have been large enough to make economic sense. By the time Byram signed off on the project, the market was gone, and the limited size of the approved project was too small to make sense. I think that caused the asking price of the few condos they did erect to be wildly-over priced for the neighborhood, as Nancy Healy astutely points out.
So what happens now? We’ll see. Last I heard, maybe nine months ago, this Kennedy Funding group seemed to be under the delusion that the retail value of these units really was close to $2 million, and they were demanding a price appropriate to that. If they’ve sobered up, then someone should be able to get a deal here, finish the twenty-unit project (and sell them for $950 per unit? just a guess) and Byram will benefit. Otherwise, the place will sit for a long time. But eventually, something’s bound to happen.