Little-known owner Nicola Brusca passes $380 million wallet to children

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30 West 73rd Street in Manhattan (Google Maps, Getty)

Succession can be a complicated matter in real estate. To avoid this, the Elghanayans of Rockrose Development fame used a lottery to split the properties among three siblings. It worked much better than the more traditional methods used by the Milstein family, heiress of Sol Goldman and Harry Helmsley survivors, who all found themselves in lengthy legal battles over who would inherit what.

A landlord who has quietly amassed a wallet worth nearly half a billion dollars has just given away most of it to his children.

Nicola Brusco, a landlord operating primarily on the Upper West Side, transferred majority ownership of about 100 properties to his five adult children, Crain reported, citing a notice in the city register. The stake, which represents approximately 80% of Brusco’s portfolio, is valued at $380 million.

Brusco began sweeping neighborhood properties in the 1970s, when the Upper West Side was run down. Brusco rehabilitated and restored the properties, mostly brownstone rentals near Central Park.

The strategy, usually referred to as value-added investing in real estate circles, is now derided by some as something “speculators” do to gentrify and drive up rents in an area. Real estate values ​​have indeed skyrocketed on the Upper West Side since the 1970s, but it’s considered one of the city’s most desirable and architecturally significant neighborhoods.

In the 1980s, many city developers began to convert rentals to co-ops, but Brusco did not. Instead, the owner has gone ahead with building his portfolio, which includes about a dozen buildings on West 73rd Street, as well as others on West 74th, West 75th and West 77th Streets – essentially blocking off a section of the Upper West Side.

Brusco’s portfolio dips into other neighborhoods, including Hell’s Kitchen, the East Village and the Bronx.

Brusco buildings have limited service and no doormen, according to the owner’s website. Most buildings are walk-up buildings with less than 15 units.

Perhaps to avoid post-transfer feuds, Brusco awarded the five children – Nicholas, Joseph, John, Cristina and Paul – roughly equal slices of the pie. Brusco Group, which operates the family’s rentals, did not respond to a publication request for comment.

—Holden Walter-Warner

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