The development site at 280 E. Houston St. has a new owner who's familiar to residents of the Lower East Side.
As The Real Deal first reported, landlord Samy Mahfar, whose descriptions in the press often include the words "notorious" or "oft-embattled," and investors picked up the property from members of the Hirsch family for $36.8 million.
In January, we had the scoop on this new building when the permit for a 68,000-square-foot residential building with 67 units first arrived here between Avenue A and Avenue B. However, as you'll read ahead, the complex will likely end up much larger than this...
The Hirsch family obtained demolition permits and did enough foundation work to qualify the site for the 421a property tax abatement before it expired in June...
The apartment building and retail space [the former Red Square at 250 E. Houston St.] were partially sold in 2016 to a group led by Dermot Company in a condominium structure, with the family entities retaining a percentage. When the site was later upzoned to R8-A, which permitted bonus floor area for voluntary inclusionary housing, it added roughly 65,000 square feet as-of-right to any project, which would nearly double to 127,000 square feet if it qualified for 421a.
So we'll see where No. 280 ultimately ends up. Last fall, workers demolished the one-level strip of storefronts (Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins, Subway, China Town restaurant, etc.) adjacent to the 13-floor residential building at No. 250. Qualified projects under the 421a designation must be completed by June 15, 2026, to receive the incentive, per TRD.
In 2017, a years-long investigation into Mahfar "uncovered harassment tactics, dangerous living conditions and failure to provide heat and hot water," according to DNAinfo at the time. He reached a $225,000 settlement with then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
At 102 Norfolk St., dust covering the building's stairs was found to contain as high as 40,000 micrograms per square foot and 110,000 micrograms per square foot of lead, according to the settlement agreement. The limit for lead concentration on floors per the city's health code is 40 micrograms per square foot.
Mahfar also owns the newish 14-floor residential complex across the street at 255 E. Houston St./171 Suffolk St.
He also recently unloaded several of his multifamily properties on the LES (99 Allen St., 177 Ludlow St. and 102 Norfolk St.).