‘Grave Dancer’ Takes Manhattan

zell120808 0 Grave Dancer Takes ManhattanSam Zell–the self-proclaimed “grave dancer” with a history of swooping in on the carcasses of struggling businesses–is now picking at the Manhattan real estate market. Yesterday, Mr. Zell’s company Equity Residential fleshed out its plans in Chelsea, which were reported by the Post last month. From today’s Wall Street Journal:

In its earnings conference call Thursday, the Chicago-based company said it plans 111 market-rate apartments and nearly 10,000 square feet of retail space in the Chelsea neighborhood at the southwest corner of 10th Avenue and 23rd Street.

Last weekend, the Post reported that Mr. Zell had purchased Harry Macklowe’s last three rental towers. By the Journal’s count, Mr. Zell will own 26 properties with 7,320 units when the deals are done, making him a sudden force in the New York leasing landscape. 

Mr. Zell’s emergence can’t be encouraging for other sellers–his company admits the Chelsea development was a “distress situation”–but it’s welcome news for real estate writers, who can expect some quality quotes.

“I’m your Viagra!” the colorful Mr. Zell told the L.A. Times newsroom shortly after he bought the Tribune Company, which declared bankruptcy in 2008.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this item implied the Journal had broken the news, when, in fact, it was the Post. The Observer regrets the error.

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