The Antares Byram disaster

So what’s happening with the failed Antares projects near  Western Junior High? A reader wanted to know and so I asked my friend Frank Farricker who knows everything about local real estate news and is always an unimpeachable source of information unless you want to know (a) how many houses will sell this year (Frank, we will sell more than fifty – really) or (b) politics. Frank was dropped on his head repeatedly as a baby and as the result became a Democrat. We love and cherish him anyway and of course, pray for his soul (in fact, I voted for him when he ran for First Selectman, but that was only because I thought the job would keep him off the streets and out of trouble). Here’s what he says happened to the Antares’ dream of becoming residential kings:

The buildings are owned by Lehman Brothers, who, in its most simplistic form, took the property back in December, 2007. They then hired a company called RADCO (www.radco.us) to execute a “turnaround” strategy. RADCO only turned around Putnam Green, in which there was a significant expense to fix up apartments and rent. I understand they are about 60% full, with rents hovering in the $3-$4000 a month range.
 
They just left Weavers Hill alone along with the 15 or so senior tenants that beat Antares. There was a rumor that it was for sale, but that was knocked down by Marsal and Alvarez, the bankruptcy trustee charged with disposing of Lehman assets. They will probably begin the cleanup to Weavers Hill soon, then when it is finished they will try to sell $2 million condominiums, because there is no other logical way it makes sense to pour another $50 million into something that has already lost $360 million. Yes, between the purchase, the fees, the construction, the marketing, the lawyers, the new operators with their construction, marketing, fees and lawyers $360 million has been poured into those two projects.

I’m not the real estate whiz that Frank is but if those condos ever sell for anything close to $2 million, I’ll give up the practice and go back to lawyering, a horrible fate indeed.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “The Antares Byram disaster

  1. I think Frank is more than a little high on the Putnam Green rents. When I stopped by a few months ago they were asking $1,300 for s studio and $1,700 for a 1 BR. At that time those where the only sizes they were renting – the larger ones still needed work.

    From the looks of things, they still have a long way to go in the renovation process, which Antares simply walked away from. Weaver’s Hill is nicer, and I think was in better shape to begin with, although who knows what maintenance has been like recently. And no, there’s no way they’re going to fetch anything close to $2 million. As someone said to me earlier today vis-a-vis these two projects, it’s no wonder that Lehman Brothers went bankrupt – they loaned out far too much money on these turkeys, and got stuck by the Antares boys. I wonder if Dickie Fuld ever made his way from North Street to Byram to see where poor people live…

    • christopherfountain

      Frank’s not high, Bill, and I think it’s terrible of you to raise that possibility. See again my reference to his being dropped on his head as a baby, and have pity.

      Lehman’s real estate division got a tidy (like, $15 million) banking fee for foisting this crap on its customers, Antares got tons of management fees and the only ones who might have actually have cared about the value of these buildings, the Lehman customers, were never told. It was a win, win, lose situation and, obvious in retrospect, hardly unique.

  2. Heaven forfend that straight-arrow Frank should ever get high! Nor will I stoop to the dropped-on-his-head excuse and suggest he may be slightly addled. I think the real situation here is that he has been misinformed…and I think the 60% rented figure is also more than a little optimistic. Perhaps Frank has been reading too many Radco press releases? Or perhaps the Antares boys are still doing the PR for Putnam Green, along the lines of their PR for the former UST building, which is supposedly complete and fully rented? (It’s neither, as we both know…)

  3. frank farricker

    I was too busy hanging out with Michael Phelps to respond, but….I was only told that they were at 60% – considering the amount of tenants that didn’t leave during the Antares senior citizen bloodbath, the figure doesn’t feel too out of whack. Its just what I heard. As far as the $2 million number, mere sarcasm there as it is the only way they would ever break even. I suspect that they could only get $2 million if we were dealing in Jamaican dollars, and perhaps not even then.

  4. pulled up in OG

    So fifteen or so elderly tenants struggled through Antares’ crap and stuck it out at Weaver’s Hill.

    How many other families had their lives disrupted by these bozos? Had to be a couple of hundred, no?
    (396 units total)

  5. PoeticJustic

    While many think Antares a sleeze,
    they make affordable housing a breeze,
    they buy at the top,
    all those condos non-stop,
    to watch investors returns drop,
    and then rent them as cheap as they please.

  6. Jane

    I think Frank is dreamy. But I am a friend of his wife, so I demure.

    At any rate, he is pretty tame and on point. Give the guy a break.

    • christopherfountain

      Jane, I don’t necessarily think of Frank as “dreamy” but he’s one of the nicest, funniest guys I’ve had the pleasure to meet in the past few years and if I tease him, it’s only because I want to make him an even better person.

  7. Owl

    Frank….we all admire your new “celebrity status”. Do we need to call your publicist to get an interview or just go to Jet Lounge or Tabu in Vegas to share a booth with you, Michael Phelps and Paris Hilton?!!!

    Coming soon to Mead Ave…Satellite trucks and talking heads to see if Frank sees his shadow in the morning!

    On a serious note…Frank is on the mark. The Antares Boys over paid and in most peoples eyes could never mave made a proffit on those two complexes..