Two Binghamton University grads have teamed up to create new housing in Downtown Binghamton.
Syed Ali and Adam Ibrahim, who both graduated in May of 2014, are co-presidents of investment and development company Fortress Development Group (FDG). After studying Binghamton’s real estate market and the Southern Tier economy as a whole, the two decided to renovate 73 Court Street into luxury living for local residents.
The new space will be called City Center Lofts, and renovations are expected to start this September and last for six months.
Ibrahim said they both hope this project can be a first step to revitalizing both the city and the Southern Tier’s economy. He said that it will not only use local labor and materials in building, but also provide housing to younger residents looking to establish themselves in Binghamton.
“We believe that building and offering great places to work and live in Binghamton will improve the lives of the people here as well as the economy at large,” he said. “Ultimately, our product will bring more residency to the city center.”
The space was purchased by FDG for $600,000 in April after being vacant for almost 40 years. The ground floor is currently occupied by Merlin’s, a bar.
According to Ali, the finished product will be over 20,000 square feet. It will feature 12 two- or three-bedroom apartments and can house between 28 and 40 residents. The ground floor retail space will remain commercial.
Ali said the design for the space was conceived before the deal was closed, so investments from various sources will be put to the best use possible because of advanced planning. The entire project will cost $2.5 million, and they are working closely with local contractors and officials.
“As far as this first deal, we funded it through a combination of our personal wealth built through our previous positions and ventures, lenders whom we have partnered with in the area and government sources,” he wrote in an email.
Ibrahim and Ali first met while attending BU, and both majored in economics. After graduating, they started FDG and have been running the development company together for a year and a half. The company currently manages over $50 million in property assets from previous developments.
“The process was very organic, as it was more a function of complementary passions and skill sets than of economic necessity,” Ibrahim wrote in an email.
The two said they also plan to make several more investments in Binghamton soon, although no plans are currently finalized. Ibrahim said that in order to implement the best use of every property, each potential space will be evaluated independently. While City Center Lofts is for local residents, they said it is possible that they might look into creating student housing.
“Ultimately, we seek to achieve a healthy balance of high quality student and market rate housing that fully accommodates the demand for living space within the city,” he wrote.
For now, they both said they are excited for the project to begin, and look forward to a future of investing in the Binghamton area.
“We are proud to be working closely with the city and its key people to completely revitalize and bring stability to the downtown center of Binghamton,” Ibrahim wrote. “City Center Lofts is the first segment of that effort.”