(September 4, 2014) The New York Daily News is reporting that the Postal Service has sold the Bronx General Post Office to Youngwoo & Associates. Back in February, The Real Deal had reported that Youngwoo was proposing to use the site to build a marketplace in the vein of the company’s unsuccessful plan for the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.
The founder and principal of Youngwoo & Associates (YWA) is Young Woo, a Korean immigrant with connections to the Korean-American. According to the YWA website, Mr. Woo is an active philanthropist, a regular lecturer on real estate, and an alumnus and former trustee of the Pratt School of Architecture.
There’s a good profile of Mr. Woo by Adam Piore in The Real Deal. Piore notes that Mr. Woo has gotten into some controversies, including a $100 million lawsuit filed against him by Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival and a legal battle with a South Korean bank with which he had partnered on a deal to buy a Wall Street building.
Such controversies may be par for the course in the world of New York City real estate, but the choice of Youngwoo as the winning bidder for the Bronx GPO raises yet more questions about how CBRE, the Postal Service’s exclusive real estate broker, is going about the sales of post offices. One of the main allegations raised by investigative reporter Peter Byrne is that CBRE has been selling postal facilities to its own clients and to other businesses with which it has done deals, often at prices that were below market value.
According to Byrne’s Going Postal: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap, by selling postal facilities at low prices in this way, CBRE and its partners may be profiting at the expense of the Postal Service.
That’s a matter of particular concern because, at least until recently, the chairman of the board of CBRE was Richard Blum, Senator Feinstein’s husband. Blum stepped down as chairman in May, but he continues to a major stockholder.
While the Bronx GPO was estimated to be worth $14 million, the Daily News doesn’t say what the sales price turned out to be, and the Postal Service has not made any formal announcement about the deal. Whatever the price, though, there’s no doubt that Youngwoo and CBRE have a prior relationship.