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FLORHAM PARK, NJ-The Kushner Cos. has been in the news a lot recently with a number of transactions that have made it one of the fastest-growing real estate organizations in the Northeast, no mean feat in this super-heating market. No recent deal has been bigger for the Florham Park, NJ-based Kushner than its acquisition, just announced, of Freehold, NJ-based WNY Group. Entering the Kushner fold, the self-administered and self-managed REIT will bring an apartment portfolio of 8,000 units in 42 properties and a price tag of $280 million.

WNY’s residential portfolio is spread throughout New Jersey (Cherry Hill, Marlton, Eatontown), Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and it will boost Kushner’s own residential portfolio to more than 20,000 units. That, in any language, makes it one of the largest privately owned multifamily owners in the country. The acquisition will also add 300 staffers to Kushner’s existing base of 500 employees.

“WNY has consistently improved and maintained its portfolio and has enjoyed high occupancy levels,” says Charles Kushner, chairman of the company that bears his name. “That portfolio includes some of the most desirable apartment communities in their markets.”

Kushner also manages over 3 million sf of office, industrial and retail space in several states and has ownership interests in more than 6 million feet. The company’s Westminster Communities division is currently building 500 homes in NJ and has 40 other projects in various stages.

WNY is an outgrowth of a company founded 20 years ago by Peter Weidhorn. Its current structure as a privately held REIT dates to 1998, with Weidhorn as CEO.

“This move will provide for the continued infrastructure and growth that we needed in order to expand our market presence,” according to Weidhorn, who is expected to take a senior position at Kushner.

Bruce Schonbraun, managing partner of the Roseland, NJ-based consulting firm of Schonbraun Safris McCann Bekritsky advised Kushner and structured the acquisition. Salomon Smith Barney was the advisor to WNY.

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