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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Harlem property investor who could’ve been rich may lose it all

Two Harlem properties that Allard bought in the 1980s -- 239 Lenox Ave., three blocks from a new Whole Foods -- and 32 W. 120th St., across from Marcus Garvey Park -- were sold at a foreclosure auction for a combined total of $5.5 million.

real-estate Updated: Sep 14, 2019 16:44 IST
Oshrat Carmiel
Oshrat Carmiel
Bloomberg
The investor of Harlem property fears to end up homeless.
The investor of Harlem property fears to end up homeless. (Photo: @BradHolt/ Twitter)
         

Gisele Allard should be a multimillionaire by now. Instead she’s worried she could end up homeless.

On Thursday, two Harlem properties that Allard bought in the 1980s -- 239 Lenox Ave., three blocks from a new Whole Foods -- and 32 W. 120th St., across from Marcus Garvey Park -- were sold at a foreclosure auction for a combined total of $5.5 million. Last month, her home at 50 E. 126th St., was sold at auction for $1.2 million, her lawyer Robert Strougo said.

Allard, 75, will realize none of the gains from the sale of her property portfolio -- which began when the Montreal native arrived in New York after a divorce and couldn’t afford to live in most neighbourhoods.

“I had no money and I needed to be in a place that was relatively inexpensive,” Allard said in an interview. “The only place I could afford was Harlem.”

It was the 126th Street property that was Allard’s undoing. She bought it 21 years ago for $135,000. But the place was known for drug dealing, and banks wouldn’t touch it, so she took a $100,000 personal loan from the seller. Then he died, and unsure where to send the payments, she eventually stopped making them, she said. Allard and her lawyers say that the debt, through the cruelty of compounded interest, is nearing $8 million.

Bankruptcy Filing

She filed for bankruptcy in 2018, hoping to stave off the foreclosure of the home on East 126th Street. Instead, the move made her other assets fair game for liquidation to settle her debts. She still owns one more property, on 119th Street, which could also face foreclosure if the court determines her debts haven’t been satisfied.

“This will throw me on the street,” Allard said. “I’m very close to becoming homeless.”

This week, there were 28 bidders at the auction for the 120th Street property, which sold for $2.78 million, according to court records. There were 22 bidders for the building on Lenox Avenue, with the winner agreeing to pay $2.73 million.

The median sale price of a townhouse in Northern Manhattan last year was $2.04 million, according to a report by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. That’s more than double the $890,000 median price a decade ago.

Harlem Home Sets Upper Manhattan Record With $5.1 Million Sale

“These bricks are in the right location now,” she said of her brownstones. “Ten years ago, nobody wanted them.”

(The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text.)