Chinese insurer is funding Witkoff’s 111 Murray

Equity investment believed to be in the “high nine digits”

May.May 22, 2015 09:00 AM

UPDATED, 5:23 p.m., May 22: Witkoff, Fisher Brothers and Howard Lorber have wooed a Chinese insurance company to fund their Tribeca condominium project at 111 Murray Street, The Real Deal has learned.

The insurer is making an equity investment in the “high nine digits,” according to sources familiar with the deal, which has yet to close.

In 2013, the developers paid $200 million for the site, which used to be a satellite campus of St. John’s University. The upcoming Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower, formerly known as both 101 Murray Street and 101 Tribeca, will rise 857 feet tall and have 139 apartments, ranging from studios to five-bedroom pads and penthouses. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is handling sales.

Eastdil Secured and Howard Michaels’ Carlton Group both advised Witkoff on the equity investment deal, according to sources. Neither could be reached for comment.

Chinese insurers have been active investors in New York real estate over the past year. In early February, the insurer Anbang Group closed on the $1.95 billion purchase of the Waldorf Astoria hotel. On Thursday, the firm closed on the office portion of 717 Fifth Avenue for $415 million. Anbang is not the investor in 111 Murray Street, according to sources.

At  earlier this month, Xinyuan Development’s CEO John Liang argued insurers are part of a third wave of Chinese investors, after apartment buyers and developers. “The third wave, which is just starting, they’re institutional investors,” he said. “They’re more interested in commercial real estate: long-term, income generating and it can be leveraged by cash flow. This type of money right now is looking for opportunities here in the U.S.”

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