NNEW YORK CITY-Having made his mark throughout the past three decades in underachieving Manhattan neighborhoods, notably East Harlem, Steven Kessner is assembling a $100-million fund to make acquisitions in resurgent areas around the city and metro area. It will take aim at a wide range of investment opportunities, from traditional residential and commercial real estate to problem properties to distressed debt.

“I always love to find distressed properties, and they’re out there, whereby we can turn them into income-producing properties,” Kessner tells GlobeSt.com. “That’s something we’ve been doing for the past 25 years, and that’s the best niche for us to get into, wherever it may be in the metro area.”

East Harlem, Kessner recalls, was “a great area for us to get into ahead of the crowd.” His company, the R.E. Group, began acquiring properties there in the early 1980s. In 1998, the company arranged what was reportedly the first major Wall Street conduit financing in East Harlem, a 30-building package with Nomura Securities. Nine years later, R.E. sold most of its Manhattan apartment and retail holdings, including 47 East Harlem properties, to London-based Dawnay Day for $225 million.

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