The Real Deal New York

Chris Xu to buy 4-acre Flushing dev site for $100M-plus

Developer may use old plans for five-tower, Ismael Leyva-designed complex

November 16, 2016 07:00AM
By Mark Maurer and Chava Gourarie

Rendering of River Park Place, (credit: Ismael Levya) and Chris XU

Rendering of River Park Place (credit: Ismael Levya) and Chris Xu

Developer Chris Jiashu Xu is in contract to acquire a sprawling, barren 3.7-acre development site in Flushing for north of $100 million, or more than $115 per buildable square foot, sources told The Real Deal.

The waste-filled lot at 39-08 Janet Place, also known as 131-35 Roosevelt Avenue, offers as-of-right 870,000 buildable square feet. It’s located on the Flushing River waterfront, sandwiched between the condo complex Sky View Parc and the former home of Korean supermarket Assi Plaza.

It is unclear whether Xu will revive plans for a five-tower, mixed-use megadevelopment designed by architect Ismael Leyva or go in a different direction. The city had approved the architectural and construction plans before the downturn. Sources said Xu and Leyva met in recent weeks to review the architect’s initial design.

Under Leyva’s old designs, plans called for a complex called River Park Place spanning 757,000 square feet. The proposal featured 450 apartments across 395,000 square feet, in addition to 313,000 square feet of commercial space (hotel and retail), a 7,500-square-foot community space and 1,000 parking spaces. The residential component could be built as either condos or rentals.

Xu’s Corona-based firm United Construction & Development Group agreed to buy the property on Sept. 21, the contract of sale shows. The deal is being done off-market. Massey Knakal Realty Services, which is now Cushman & Wakefield, had the listing in 2015, and then CBRE had it earlier this year.

With the contract signed, the site’s vast development potential moves closer to reality.

The seller is an investor group led by Reuven Rivlin’s ABS Management & Development and Chaim Babad’s Babad Management that has owned the site since 2006, when it paid $26 million. LEV Development Group, founded by Nest Seekers International CEO Eddie Shapiro, had led development plans for the complex on the owners’ behalf. When the market tanked, the partnership failed to get financing and break ground. The site almost fell into foreclosure in 2012, when Ohio-based U.S. Bank filed a lis pendens. The owners held onto the site by securing a $28.5 million mortgage in 2014. They ultimately decided not to build there.

The land would require an extensive cleanup effort before any development is constructed. A 2011 Queens College study on the Flushing waterfront described it as a “dumping ground” littered with “broken glass, weeds, rocks and industrial tin containers.”

Representatives for ABS Management & Development, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and Leyva declined to comment. Xu could not be immediately reached.

Xu is increasingly one of the top developers in Flushing. In February, he filed plans for Court Square City View Tower, a 79-story, 779,000-square-foot mixed-use skyscraper that is slated to be the tallest in the neighborhood. In September, he refinanced the site with a $100 million loan from Bank of China.

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