[caption id="attachment_228745" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] A New York-based investor has acquired 913 N. Market St. as it prepares to undergo a residential conversion. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
WILMINGTON – A high-rise Market Street office building may finally be progressing toward a long-planned conversion toward apartments after recently being sold to a new investor.The 12-story building at 913 N. Market St. has been planned for such a conversion for at least five years but has been delayed by a search for additional investors and the need to fix a variety of code violations.With those issues seemingly in the rearview, the owner of the building, YBTZ LLC, which is owned by investor Sidney Weisz of Pomona, N.Y., applied for approval of a new plan to convert the building into a 54-unit apartment complex. The city’s Design and Plan Review Committee unanimously signed off on that request in July 2021.In September 2022, Weisz’s YBTZ sold the building for $5 million to a familiar name: YBTZ LLC. This entity, set up in New Jersey rather than Delaware though, is managed by Yisroel Berger of Spring Valley, N.Y.No contact info for Berger is publicly available, and a man encountered by the Delaware Business Times outside of 913 Market who said he knew the owners declined to discuss the project. A request for comment was not returned.
[caption id="attachment_228743" align="alignright" width="200"] The plan now calls for converting the Class B office building into 54 apartment units with some ground-floor retail. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
The $5 million sale, at about $69 per square foot, represents a nearly 500% sale-to-sale return on Weisz’s original $1.1 million investment in what was then a beleaguered downtown office building.In 2016, then-owner Sky Management Services sold the building in an auction and attracted a few bidders. After the highest bidder failed to close the deal, the investment firm turned to the second highest bidder who became entangled in title insurance woes. Ultimately, the sale was made to Weisz, but the episode resulted in lawsuits by bothoriginal bidders.Should the 40-year-old, Class B building with about 72,000 square feet of space complete its conversion, it will join a number of downtown office buildings undergoing such changes.Last year, a Pennsylvania developer began a $27 million conversion of the neighboring 14-story office building at 901 N. Market St., planning to create about 82 apartments.Then earlier this year, a Miami-area developer completed a $31 million conversion project that turned an 11-story office building just north of Rodney Square into a new Staybridge Suites hotel. Meanwhile, the Buccini/Pollin Group is preparing to convert 300,000 square feet of upper-floor office space in the Nemours Building into 350 apartments.In July 2020, the state supported YBTZ’s original $23.3 million project with a $1 million Downtown Development District grant, which are granted to projects that create housing or jobs in designated areas around the state in need of private investment.At that time, however, the project aimed to create about 75 high‐end apartments and 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. According to the city application submitted by the developer last year, the plan now calls for about 25% fewer units and state records now reflect a total project cost of about $13.2 million.