Gale International’s Flatiron deal with Extell fueled by site’s turnkey status

Extell had previously poured foundation, secured high-rise permissions
February 25, 2013 08:30AM

A major impetus for Gale International’s purchase of 21 West 20th Street from Extell Development was that the seller had done significant work on the development before it was stalled, thereby saving Gale a lot of time and expense, the New York Times reported.

In January, Gale closed on the $9.75 million acquisition of the development site, and revealed plans to build a 15-story, 12-unit luxury condominium tower, as The Real Deal first reported.The investment and development firm also acquired air rights for the project, which is expected to be completed in 2014. The site came with a poured foundation and current building permits.

“It was ready to go, which took a lot of the variables away,” Stan Gale Jr., a vice president of the firm, told the Times, and added that avoiding the long and costly approval process for a new development was another big draw. In 2008, Extell secured approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to build a high rise condo, despite the site’s location in a landmark neighborhood, the Ladies’ Mile Historic District.

“The tremendous amount of work that was done by the seller probably counteracted some of the challenges there,” Massey Knakal Realty Services’ Bob Knakal, who brokered the deal, told the Times. “But it probably came out selling for what it was worth.”

Gale — best known as the master plan developer of the $35 billion, 1,500-acre Songdo International Business District in South Korea — hopes to get $2,500 per square foot for the top-floor units, at rates similar to those at the neighboring Walker Tower.

Extell’s chief executive Gary Barnett told the Times that the site showed great promise but wasn’t quite the right fit for Extell. “I love the market there,” Barnett said. “It was just too small for us to do.” Barnett certainly has his hands full, with more Manhattan projects in the pipeline than any other developer. [NYT]  –Hiten Samtani