From left: Hines Interests Chairman Gerald Hines, renderings of 56 Leonard Street, 1045 Sixth Avenue and the MoMA Tower
Already behind the controversial MoMA Tower and a new Bryant Park tower, perpetually under-the-radar real estate firm Hines Interests is undertaking another major project, the New York Observer reported in a lengthy profile, by reviving the stalled 56 Leonard Street condominium project in Tribeca.
The Herzog & de Mueron-designed 57-story condo was first announced by developer Alexico Group a month before Lehman Brothers collapsed, and even sold four of its planned 145 units. But the recession took the plans for the building down with it, and the site currently has a foundation and little else. Typical of the understated firm, Hines refused to divulge much detail other than to say it would become another of Herzog & de Mueron’s “global landmarks.”
The Observer characterizes the firm as one that’s adverse to risk. Rather than assemble sites of its own for buildings, it typically builds them out on commission or buys them when interest rates are low.
The profile traces the history of Hines Interests in the city, where its first projects were spec-built office towers in the 1980s and early 1990s, including the Lipstick Building on Third Avenue, 31 East 52nd Street and 450 Lexington Avenue. The Observer quotes many real estate insiders who say Hines was among the first firms to value architectural design the way it is commonly revered today.
After the dot-com bubble burst the firm focused on buying towers that met its design standards, such as 750 Seventh Avenue, which it recently entered into contract to sell, 425 and 600 Lexington Avenue and 499 Park Avenue. The firm has begun to move into residential development with 40 Mercer Street in Soho, One Jackson Square in Greenwich Village and now 56 Leonard. [NYO]