Dubai’s Istithmar World Capital hands in the keys to former Knickerbocker Hotel

March 03, 2010 10:04AM

Istithmar World Capital, the investment arm of the Dubai government, has defaulted on its $300 million mortgage on the former Knickerbocker Hotel site in Times Square and turned the property over to its lender. Istithmar had been planning to convert the site’s 300,000-square-foot office building back into a high-end hotel, and now that Dubai is out of the picture, vulture investors are reportedly chomping at the bit to take the helm at a steep discount. The lender, Danske Bank A/S, hired Jones Lang LaSalle to market the property, and the brokerage’s Ben Singer said interest has been high. One such interested bidder is said to be Sitt Asset Management, which owned the building before Istithmar bought it in 2006. Istithmar had stopped renewing leases in the office building there, known as 1466 Broadway, and had also purchased an adjacent vacant lot for $76 million, as part of its hotel conversion plan. The building is now almost 50 percent vacant, according to research firm CoStar. Dan Fasulo, managing director for Real Capital Analytics, said the property would be best-used as a hotel. He said the first mortgage note is valued at $290 million, though the property could be worth less than that because it is in need of renovations. [WSJ]