Steve Croman sells troubled Hell’s Kitchen apartment complex to nonprofit with development plans

Steve Croman sells troubled Hell’s Kitchen apartment complex to nonprofit with development plans

Photo credit: Phil O’Brien.

June 28, 2024
New York Business Journal
By Kevin Smith

An apartment building plagued with squatters and drug-dealing activity has been sold in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.

Services for the UnderServed (S:US), a New York City-based nonprofit organization, paid Croman Real Estate $20 million to obtain the apartment complex at 351-357 45th St.

The notoriously decrepit apartments are planned to “be renovated and repurposed to provide affordable housing for families in need,” Services for the UnderServed said in a statement. It is the organization’s first project in Hell’s Kitchen.

“We’re thrilled to finalize this acquisition and begin the process of transforming these long-neglected buildings into safe, affordable homes,” Arlo Chase, senior vice president of real estate at S:US, said in the statement.

The apartment building has 80 residential units, 11 of which are rent stabilized. S:US plans to convert the other 69 apartment units into rent stabilized units, part of a CityFHEPS rental assistance contract.

Services for the UnderServed, an organization that has been active in New York City since 1978, provides more than 35,000 people annually with resources such as “housing, employment, skills-building, treatment and rehabilitation services.”

Juan Barahona’s SMJ Development and Drew Popkin’s Highpoint Property Group are partnering with the Services for the UnderServed on the development. The trio are seeking a $27 million subsidized construction loan from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Records show that the developers have secured a $19.3 million loan from another nonprofit, Enterprise Community Partners.

“These four buildings contain 80 classic New York City apartments where people should be thriving and taking advantage of all that Hell’s Kitchen has to offer,” Popkin, principal of High Point Property Group, said in the statement. “High Point looks forward to restoring them, modernizing them and creating opportunity for neighbors new and old.”

Services for the Underserved will offer budgeting assistance and job training resources at the building. The updates will include adding an electric heating system, renovating the garden level for offices and other resident amenities, such as a gym and computer lab.

Repairs and cleanup at the building have already begun. New security measures are being taken on the property as well. The full renovation is set to begin sometime this fall.

“The buildings have long been owned and managed by notorious New York landlord Steve Croman, who has allowed conditions in and around the building to deteriorate — a situation that has placed tenants and the surrounding community at risk of harm,” S:US said in a statement.

Croman has previously spent a year in jail after pleading guilty to grand larceny and other charges, according to the New York Times. He was ordered to a pay a then-record $8 million in restitution to his tenants for harassing them, according to The Real Deal.

W42ST previously reported that residents faced bad conditions in the building, mounting pressure on Croman to offload the property. The paper reported that the building had previously dealt with squatters and drug-dealing activity.

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