Sunday Summary: Nobody’s Home at Prodigy

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For those who like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot or Nancy Drew, we have a mystery for you:

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What happened to the nearly $700 million Rodrigo Niño raised before he died?

Niño, once the exclusive broker at Trump Soho, was the founder of Prodigy Network, a crowdfunding company that raised $700 million and bought up prime New York real estate. 

Prodigy was already facing trouble before the coronavirus pandemic, but in the last few months its founder, Niño, died, its coworking arm The Assemblage ceased operations overnight, and two of its buildings sold for the price of the debt against them, wiping out the thousands of equity investors at the bottom of the waterfall. 

So who you gonna call? 

Not Prodigy. Their phone numbers don’t work.

Commercial Observer did a deep dive into Niño’s history, the assets that Prodigy managed, and how it went all wrong, in order to shed some light on the mystery. Spoiler: It’s still pretty mysterious. 

Another mystery is how New York City can get affordable housing built when it has a $9 billion hole in its budget. Developers who’ve spent millions on pre-development plans are worried that the financing won’t come through. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development is expected to lose up to 40 percent of its budget over the next year, which could mean a loss of 21,000 affordable apartments. 

Maybe stop building malls? 

We’re running out of jokes to make at the expense of the American Dream Mall, though it makes a pretty excellent example of this particular American nightmare. 

While we were watching endless hours of Netflix, the colossal entertainment complex in New Jersey sat empty, all 3.1 million square feet of it. After opening one portion of the mall last fall, at the end of a two-decade wait, the American Dream Mall was forced to close in March, just days before the grand opening of its retail section and an indoor waterpark. Four months in, it has no definite reopening date, its retail tenants are dropping (into bankruptcy) like flies, and there’s no clear end in sight.

At least it’s not alone. Another shiny new mall, right here in New York City, just lost its anchor tenant. Bankrupt department store Neiman Marcus will be leaving Hudson Yards, it disclosed in court documents. 

Not to worry though, Related Companies already has plans to turn it into office space, because office is not facing any headwinds, either. Not at all. 

For even more retail bankruptcy news …

Ann Taylor parent Ascena Retail Group filed for bankruptcy with plans to close 1,100 stores across all its brands (Justice, Loft, Lane Bryant), angering Karens everywhere. And Simon Property Group together with Authentic Brands bid $305 million for the bankrupt Brooks Brothers, angering Chads everywhere (in the interest of gender equality).

More good news!

Just kidding. (Oh, you should’ve seen the look on your face!) Unemployment’s on the upswing for the first time since April, probably because there’s a virus spreading through the country, and states keep closing things to try and stop it. 

At least the finance bros are making moves.

Marcus & Millichap is buying Mission Capital in a deal that was in the works for over a year, according to CO’s sources. BH properties launched a $200 million fund to acquire troubled assets, and Walker & Dunlop provided $35 million in loans for two student housing properties. 

And there were a pair of very boastable leases: AIG took 280,000 square feet at 28 Liberty, and BNP Paribas renewed 323,000 square feet at 787 Seventh Avenue. I mean, BNP had an additional 132,000 square feet that they decided not to renew. But a deal’s a deal.

See you next week!