13-17 Laight St. is just one building sold, amid several recent deals, in white-hot Tribeca.

NEW YORK CITY-With the high absorption rates and maxed-out rents of midtown and midtown South, Downtown is fast becoming the city’s latest hot spot. But its not Wall Street or Greenwich Village that’s the investor community’s darling of the moment, it’s Tribeca.

The area was home recently to a couple of deals: two condominium transactions done by Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance, Inc. and a buy of an iconic mixed-used loft building done by Eastern Consolidated.

Best known for spacious loft apartments, the Tribeca Film Festival and a hip, edginess factor, Tribeca’s appeal stems from several factors, says Roberto Ortiz, Eastern Consolidated Senior Director/Principal, in an interview with GlobeSt.com.

“Tribeca zoning has changed, creating flexibility for what you can do there,” he says, noting how once illegal artist lofts have been converted to highly coveted—and perfectly above board, residences. “There are a lot of both commercial and residential leases coming due in the next three or four years, and some of the commercial leases have demolition clauses that expire in 2015.”

Additionally, real estate’s location, location, location mantra holds true for the area, Ortiz asserts.

“You have Chinatown to the East and, nearby, Hudson Square and SoHo and Greenwich Village,” he says. “It’s in the center of all that’s happening.”

He continues, “There are several trains in the area and there are great public schools right there, like Stuyvesant High School, so a family can afford to spend more to live down there because they’re saving $40,000-a-year by not sending their children to private school.”

Eastern Consolidated closed a $56 million deal in December on 13-17 Laight St., an 80,000 square foot mixed-use property for which the firm represented both the buyer and the seller. Ortiz and executive managing director Alan Miller acted on behalf of the buyer, VE Equities. Overseen by the company’s partners, Zachary Vela and Justin Ehrlich, the company has been “very active” in the Tribeca area with several deals, including the recent conversion of 157 Hudson St., according to Ortiz. Eastern Consolidated’s Alan Miller, executive vice president, exclusively represented VE in the sale of the retail condo at the building.

On the sales side, Ortiz, financial analyst Paul Nigido and Aaron Grumet, senior director at DY Realty Services LLC, represented the seller, Mazda Realty Associates, which has owned the elevatored building for the last 27 years. With frontage on Laight Street, Varick Street and St. John’s Lane, the building’s retail space offers a compelling story. It includes TriBeCa Cinemas, Copenhagen Café and Gateway College of Norway.

On the residential side, above the ground-floor retail spaces sit nine residential lofts and 16 commercial units. VE’s options for what to do with that space are all good, and fairly unlimited, Ortiz notes.

“They could keep it as a rental or, at one time, there was a law firm that wanted to buy it to move their offices there, so there’s office rental possibilities, he says, noting that he is unaware of the buyer’s intentions. “High-end condos would be great, there’s great light on all sides and views are spectacular; you can see the Empire State Building looking Sixth Avenue. It was once a manufacturing building but the zoning is pretty flexible now.”

Meanwhile, Apollo Commercial Real Estate was one of five lenders on a $350 million construction loan on a condominium tower under construction at 56 Leonard St., according to Commercial Mortgage Alert.

More specifically, an announcement of the deal says Apollo provided an $80 million whole loan. At closing, the Company funded a $45 million first mortgage loan and $0.4 million of a $35 million mezzanine loan, the balance of which will be funded throughout the conversion process. The property will have 66 units with approximately 96,000 net salable square feet and approximately 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

The whole loan has an initial term of two years with two 12-month extension options, subject to additional project completion hurdles. The interest rate on the whole loan is LIBOR+8.5% with a LIBOR floor of 0.5%. Apollo received a 1% origination fee and will receive a 1% exit fee on the fully funded balance of the loan. When fully funded, Apollo’s loan basis will represent an underwritten loan-to-net sellout of approximately 55%. The whole loan has been underwritten to generate an unlevered IRR of approximately 11%.

Meanwhile, the company also provided a $60 million mezzanine loan commitment secured by a pledge of preferred equity interests in the owner of a to-be-developed 352,624 net saleable square foot, 57-story, 146-unit condominium tower also located in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City.The company provided $46 million of financing at closing and will provide an additional $14 million within the next six months.

The mezzanine loan will receive an interest rate of 13.25% and has a 1% origination fee and a 1% exit fee on the fully funded balance of the loan. When fully funded, the Company’s loan basis will represent an underwritten loan-to-net sellout of approximately 54%. The mezzanine loan has a term of 54 months with one extension option of 12-months and has been underwritten to generate an IRR of approximately 16%.

The planned 60-story building will feature an unusual design, according to Mortgage Alert, with luxury condo units of varying sizes stacked in asym