Sam Chang files first new hotel plans in four years

But says he is not active developer on either structure
By Adam Pincus | May 31, 2013 05:45PM

Is Sam Chang getting back in the game? In recent weeks, his company, McSam Hotel Group — one of the city’s most prolific hotel developers — filed plans for two ground-up Manhattan projects, his first such applications since 2009.

The most recent plans, filed yesterday with the Department of Buildings, call for a new 17-story hotel with 209 rooms at 538 West 58th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues.

And earlier in late March, McSam filed plans for a new 29-story hotel with 231 rooms at 6 Water Street in Lower Manhattan, DOB records show. Both projects list Gene Kaufman, Chang’s frequent collaborator, as the architect.

Yet Chang, speaking by telephone today from China, said he was not going to take an active construction role on either project.

“I am not developing them,” he said.

His Partner On The 58th Street project, Hudson Square-based Barone Management, is leading development at that site, and he is on the verge of selling the Water Street site.

“Water Street is under contract to sell to someone,” he said, although he would not identify the buyer. He purchased the property in 2008 for $56 million.

The last time Chang applied to construct a new building was in April 2009, when he filed plans to develop a hotel at 210 East 52nd Street. That 29-story project has been long-delayed, but is now is under construction.

Chang and Barone Management, headed by Scott Barone, are also partners at 2 Renwick Street, a 160-unit hotel project that is still under construction. They sold the ground lease to Eagle Point Hotel Partners for $49.9 million in December 2012.

Despite his disavowal of involvement at the new projects, no one should think Chang is sitting on the sidelines, said Alan Miller, an executive managing director at Eastern Consolidated, who represented Chang when he purchased the 58th Street site in April for $17 million from International Flavors & Fragrances, the public company that develops tastes and scents for consumer products. IFF was represented by Edward Midgley and Timothy Sheehan from CBRE Group.

“When people say he is not doing anything, I kind of smirk,” Miller said, noting that Chang is still actively building a handful of sites, and is buying and selling properties.

Miller is also marketing a site for Chang in Flushing that has an asking price of $36 million, at 131-04 40th Road, with development rights for a 550,000-square-foot mixed-use project.

The 52-year-old Chang told The Real Deal in 2008 that he expected to retire at age 50, but he has continued to build, although at a slower pace.

“I am making my real retirement announcement in the middle of December,” he told TRD today.