06.10.14 | Crain's

Firm buys up pricey properties

There’s an adage in the commercial real estate industry: What’s exorbitant today might look like a bargain tomorrow.

That’s what Manhattan-based Imperium Capital is betting on in its latest, and perhaps boldest, purchase in the four years since the firm was founded by principals Sam Schneider and Dan Glaser. Last month, it bought the ground-floor retail space at 123 Prince St. for $8 million-or a mind-boggling $12,300 per square foot for the modest 650-square-foot store. That may be an all-time record price in the area.

“We pay up for properties,” said Mr. Schneider, 36. “In world-class neighborhoods, even if we overpay, at some point the market catches up.”

A big part of Mr. Schneider’s success has been the savvy he has shown in rounding up the stable of well-capitalized partners necessary to buy properties in hot markets like SoHo and Williamsburg, where Imperium has focused.

“Our biggest skill is the deal side of the business,” said Mr. Schneider. “There’s tons of money out there but very few good deals.”

The two, who had been brokers at Eastern Consolidated, got their start as landlords in 2010, when they bought a 15,000-square-foot retail and residential building in SoHo, at 60 Wooster St. To help fund that transaction, they brought on equity partner Centurion Realty and raised their share from friends and family.

“Neither Sam nor I come from wealthy families,” said Mr. Glaser, who is 30.

They have tackled several big deals since, including 103 Prince St., which they bought in 2011 with partners Centurion Realty, Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Crown Acquisitions for $75 million.

“There’s no secret sauce-it’s about building relationships, working hard and being able to execute,” Mr. Schneider said.