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440 West 57th Street and 15 Park Row (Google Maps)

440 West 57th Street and 15 Park Row (Google Maps)

New York City’s investment sales market hit a new low in the first quarter of 2021.

The total dollar volume of deals recorded in the first quarter was $1.84 billion, down 75 percent compared from the same period last year, and down 67 percent from the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Ariel Property Advisors’ quarterly investment sales report. There were 311 total closed i-sales between January and March.

While the data would seem to indicate that the market is backsliding, that’s not necessarily the case, said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Many deals that were in contract at the onset of the pandemic finally closed at the end of 2020, resulting in a higher total sales volume in the fourth quarter, Shkury noted. And because not many contracts were signed during the pandemic, not many closing happened in the first quarter. But that’s getting better, he said.

“The first few months of the year have been robust in terms of contract signings,” he said. “We’re in the upswing of a recovery right now.”

He cited recent in-the-works deals such as Moinian Group buying SL Green’s 20 percent stake in the Sky apartment tower at 605 West 42nd Street, and RXR Realty acquiring the rental portion of CIM Group and LIVWRK’s 85 Jay Street.

“I think that moving forward in the year, we’ll see larger transactions taking place,” he said.

But there’s still a long way to go, particularly for the office market, which was hit especially hard during the pandemic — and the first quarter of the year was no different. Only six office deals closed in the city between January and March, down 71 percent from a year ago, and 57 percent from the fourth quarter.

The largest deal that closed during the first quarter was the 600-room Watson Hotel at 440 West 57th Street, which sold for nearly $155 million — or about $260,000 per key — to Yellowstone Real Estate Investments. The buyer bought the leasehold on the property along with the mortgage held by HSBC. The previous owner, BD Hotels, defaulted on that loan last year.

The first quarter’s largest multifamily sale was a pair of buildings at 15 Park Row and 19 Ann Street in the Financial District, which J&R Music World sold to Atlas Capital Group for $142 million.