Did a major Chinese investment just revive Witkoff’s Park Lane condo plans?

Greenland Group now owns a 41 percent stake in the project

TRD New York /
Apr.April 28, 2016 03:20 PM

Greenland Group bought a 41 percent stake in the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South from Kuwaiti investment company Al Waseet International this week, and the Chinese firm appears to be putting recently-shelved condo plans back on the table.

“The Park Lane project will be developed into a world’s top-notch luxury property project that is estimated to reach a sales income of US$3.6 billion -US $4.3 billion, with strong add value potential as well as an optimistic market outlook and investment return,” Greenland said in a statement, adding that the Hong Kong-based firm has “always been confident in the United States market.”

To meet those extraordinary sellout projections, Park Lane condos would have to sell far in excess of units at Vornado Realty Trust’s 220 Central Park South — currently slated to be the most expensive condo development in the city — or expand the size of the project. The most recent projected sellout at 220 Central Park South stood at $3.1 billion, according to an offering plan filed with the Attorney General, which translates to an average of more than $9,000 per square foot.

The apparent move back toward condos at 36 Central Park South appears to contradict recent announcements by developer Steven Witkoff, who declined to comment for this article.

Witkoff bought the hotel for $660 million in 2013 as part of an investor group that also included Harry Macklowe, Howard Lorber and Al Waseet. The developers planned to tear down the hotel and build an 88-unit, 1,200-foot luxury condo tower at a cost of $1.7 billion and expected revenue at $2.3 billion, aiming for a sellout averaging $8,500 per square foot. They shelved the plans earlier this year amid a weakening market.

“The fact of the matter is, the velocity is not what it was,” Witkoff told Bloomberg in January. “Because we have a cash flow, we have the flexibility to wait.”

Witkoff also told Bloomberg he had halted efforts to raise EB-5 money for the project amid uncertainty over the Chinese economy and the visa program’s future. Now he appears to have secured a cash infusion from China via a more conventional route.

Al Waseet’s role in Witkoff’s investor group was another small surprise in Greenland’s statement, which was released Monday. The firm’s involvement in the project was not previously publicized.

As part of the deal between Al Waseet and Greenland, the firms agreed to form a joint $8 billion real estate investment fund.

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