Woo’s background boosts his buildings

July 30, 2012 02:00PM

Developer Young Woo has thrived in the city’s real estate scene because — and not in spite of — his unusual background, according to a Crain’s profile. Woo, who heads Youngwoo & Associates, was born in Korea, lived in Paraguay and Argentina, and moved to New York in 1972 to study architecture. As a result, he doesn’t have the same background and contacts as typical developers.

“We can’t play the same game as [big developers] because we haven’t got their networks,” said Margarette Lee, a principal at Youngwoo. “We have to do something special.”

Never was that more evident than at 200 11th Avenue, the Sky Garage building. Crain’s said the units sold well, despite hitting the market during the recession, because of the unique parking feature. He was also praised for the unconventional thinking behind his DeKalb Market in Brooklyn.

Things haven’t always worked out well for the developer, as Crain’s noted the heavy controversy that followed his purchases of the former American International Group headquarters at 70 Pine Street during the depths of the recession. He had intended to convert the building for residential use, but ultimately sold it instead.

Now, Woo hopes to bring a unique product to the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx. The city will select a proposal in the coming weeks, and Woo’s calls for a concert venue, sports stadium, rock climbing wall, movie theater and offbeat retailers at the site. [Crain’s]