Nearly three dozen properties close to RPI sell for $9.5 million

Nearly three dozen properties close to RPI sell for $9.5 million

Garnett Housing, reportedly a partnership between real-estate developers Jeff Buell and Joseph Nicolla, has sold 34 properties—many or all of them student housing rentals in the Hillside and Beman Park neighborhoods near Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—for $9.47 million to BI TROY HOUSING LLC, a Delaware company with an office in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The deed was recorded at the Rensselaer County clerk’s office on Nov. 13.

Almost two dozen of the properties had been subject to tax breaks originally granted by the Troy Industrial Development Authority in 2014 to a Columbia Development Cos. subsidiary, which acquired them from SEFCU for $3.21 million after the credit union foreclosed on an infamous landlord and embarked on a protracted search for a buyer.

After substantial renovations, Columbia sold the properties to Garnett Housing—its property-management arm goes by Fifteenth Street Housing—in early 2016 for $5.49 million, and the tax breaks were transferred to the new owner. Four of those properties were sold by Garnett Housing later that year, becoming once again subject to full taxes, and the company bought nearly a dozen more properties outside of the IDA deal. 

Buell confirmed the weeks-old sale in an email and said that the tax-break-related agreements between Garnett Housing and the Troy IDA have not transferred to the new owner.

“That was a very important thing for me to accomplish, even if it cost me some money,” Buell told The Alt. “The IDA was there to help stabilize the asset when it desperately needed it, and I am thankful they transferred the PILOT when we purchased it. It allowed us to make improvements and get it back to the functional business it needed to be for the neighborhood. When I decided to sell, I also decided it should be back on the tax rolls and did not ask for [a] transfer.”

Steve Strichman, executive director of the Troy IDA, confirmed to The Alt that the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement between Garnett Housing and the economic development agency has been terminated, as county records show. The recent sale points to the success of the arrangement, which allowed for the properties to be renovated, making “a major change in a short period of time,” Strichman said. (The properties, prior to the Columbia acquisition, were in varying degrees of disrepair.)

A message left with an office linked to a named member of BI TROY HOUSING, which incorporated in early September, according to Delaware state records, was not immediately returned.

In a separate transaction recorded in early October, the Delaware company purchased another property in Troy, 1601 Highland Ave., from Sunrise Capital Partners for $737,000. Sunrise’s mailing address is 255 Washington Avenue Ext., Albany—the same address as that of Tri-City Rentals, which did not return a request for comment.

Joseph Nicolla, a reported partner in Garnett Housing and longtime president of Columbia Development Cos., did not return an email seeking comment. In an unrelated matter, Nicolla is facing a state felony bid-rigging charge for an alleged scheme in Albany made public last year. He has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence. There has been no indictment.

The properties sold by Garnett Housing to BI TROY HOUSING LLC are as follows:

  1. 66 Ninth St.*
  2. 2 10th St.*
  3. 155 10th St.*
  4. 162 10th St.*
  5. 107 11th St.*
  6. 41 13th St.*
  7. 2150 13th St.*
  8. 2152 14th St.*
  9. 2172 14th St.*
  10. 2210 14th St.*
  11. 2223 14th St.*
  12. 2239 14th St.*
  13. 2240 14th St.*
  14. 1328 15th St.*
  15. 1406 15th St.*
  16. 2219-2221 15th St.*
  17. 2344 15th St.*
  18. 37 Christie St.*
  19. 50 Brunswick Ave.*
  20. 77 Eagle St. (plus vacant, non-numbered lot on 13th Street)*
  21. 80 Eagle St.*
  22. 919 Jacob St.*
  23. 1827 Highland Ave.
  24. 21 Bleeker Ave.
  25. 17 Bleeker Ave.
  26. 2231 12th St.
  27. 2229 12th St.
  28. 2 Eagle St.
  29. 4 Eagle St.
  30. 18 Bleeker Ave.
  31. 1647 Tibbits Ave.
  32. 1211 Jacob St. (Garnett Housing II LLC)
  33. 2348 15th St. (Garnett Housing II LLC)

*Part of the now-cancelled PILOT deal

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