Fla. Pension's NYC Real Estate Deal Goes Sour

September 3, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The state of Florida's public pension fund may end up losing the $250 million it committed to a major Manhattan real estate investment that went sour with the nation's worsening economy.

A Bloomberg news report said that was the word delivered this week by Ash Williams, executive director of the State Board of Administration (SBA), which oversees $121.9 billion of pension and other assets, at a meeting in Tallahassee. Williams told SBA members that the fund had gotten into the investment at the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in 2007 as a share of a limited partnership with Tishman Speyer Properties LP and Blackrock Inc., the property’s owners.

According to the pension executive, Tishman and Blackrock acquired the 80-acre 11,200-unit Stuyvesant complex for $5.4 billion in 2006 and intended to convert it into 1,600 rent-stabilized units to market rates as residents vacated. Willliams said the plan was stymied when unemployment skyrocketed amid the economic turmoil.

“We are carrying that investment at zero because the market softened dramatically,” Williams told the board, according to Bloomberg. “Rents are not going up like they normally would, landlords are making concessions like free rent and people have not moved out at the rate anticipated.”

“What’s going to happen to the investment?” SBA member and Attorney General Bill McCollum, asked Williams, according to Bloomberg.

“Is there potential for recovery? Yes,” Williams responded. “Is it a strong possibility? No.”

Williams concluded: “We’ve had an unfortunate experience, we regret it and we’re taking steps so it doesn’t happen again.”