Wellsford Commercial Properties Trust located here, a wholly-owned subsidiary of New York City-based Wellsford Real Properties (WRP), has in the last couple of years amassed a major stable (five million sf) of office properties, many of them under performing. Now it has repositioned them dramatically and may, as a result, find its mission radically changed.

At issue is Wellsford/Whitehall, owner of record of those five million feet. WCPT manages the package for partners WRP (approximately 41% ownership) and Whitehall, a collection of several private equity funds managed by Goldman Sachs. And the Goldman Sachs side likes what they see–they’ve started talks to buy out most or all of the package. The majority of the properties are in NJ, some are located in Maryland and Massachusetts.

As president of WCPT, Richard R. Previdi has shepherded the growth of the portfolio and is widely credited as one of the driving forces in NJ real estate today. He couldn’t be reached for comment, but WRP chairman Jeffrey Lynford told GlobeSt.com that “Richard and his group have done a magnificent job of acquiring properties and adding value to them. Our theme, our mission, is to create value and try to realize it.

“Goldman Sachs came to us,” Lynford confirms, adding that he can’t say much about what’s going on because of the SEC’s strict disclosure rules. In any case, “Goldman Sachs recognized the inherent value of the properties and they initiated discussions.”

No dollar amounts have been made public yet, no timeline has been established and there are no guarantees that the deal will go through. If it does, the proceeds “might be used to buy more properties, or to redeem more shares, or a combination,” according to Lynford. Indeed, WRP’s board authorized a buy-back of up to two million shares as recently as this past May.

As to WCPT’s future if most of what it manages is sold off, Lynford assures that Previdi’s group will be around for a long time. “WCPT has a bright future–they will continue to acquire properties with an aim of adding value.”

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