Big-Time Landlord Searches for New Vantage

Vantage Properties, landlord to about 40,000 tenants (and target of countless affordable-housing advocates), is, in a rather desultory fashion, looking for new office digs.

“The office in the city is kind of small,” said Vantage’s president and CEO, Neil Rubler, referring to the company’s approximately 2,500 square feet at 750 Lexington Avenue.

“We actually just did a short-term extension [until the end of the year], only because I couldn’t figure out exactly what we were going to do,” he said.

Mr. Rubler, who advocates an economies-of-scale, Wal-Mart–style approach to affordable housing, hasn’t had the easiest of years. In late 2008, the Daily News ran a vague story about Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation into the firm’s “business practices.” 

The prior month, a conflagration erupted in a building housing one of Mr. Rubler’s back offices in Astoria, Queens, trapping some of his employees on the third floor. “We couldn’t get out,” Denise Jonsson, a leasing department worker, told the newspaper at the time. “They had to break the windows to get us out.”

Earlier the same year, right as the market began its precipitous decline, Mr. Rubler bought a 50-building apartment portfolio in Queens from Nicholas Haros for $300 million. Not exactly propitious timing.

But Mr. Rubler has resources. He’s married to one of the Olnicks, the quietly powerful real estate clan that includes among its assets the building where Representative Charlie Rangel once had four rent-stabilized apartments.

Now, Mr. Rubler is considering his options and said he would like to move into a larger space, perhaps a few thousand square feet. Industry sources say Vantage has already checked out space at the Bergdorf Building on Fifth Avenue.

  Big-Time Landlord Searches for New Vantage