The Real Deal New York

Aby Rosen talks 100 East 53rd, foreign buyers, Trump and Kushner

Developer’s newest tower is in the heart of a neighborhood he says is transforming
May 04, 2018 09:05AM

Aby Rosen and 100 East 53rd Street

It has been an office stronghold for decades, but according to Aby Rosen, Midtown Manhattan is now ripe for a residential transformation.

“Midtown is where the action is. It’s got a kind of Blade Runner underground feeling,” he told the Financial Times in an extensive interview touching on subjects ranging from Donald Trump to his teardown of the Four Seasons. “You feel the energy here.”

Rosen’s newest — and riskiest — project at 100 East 53rd Street is located right in the heart of the neighborhood he is talking up. The building contains 94 units, and prices range from $2.2 million to $65 million with a total projected sellout of $866 million.

Rosen caused a great deal of controversy in 2015, when he closed down the neighboring Seagram building’s famed Four Seasons restaurant, but positive reviews of his new restaurants seem to have at least temporarily mollified his critics.

Food plays a big role in his new 53rd Street building. Famed chef Joël Robuchon—a friend of Rosen’s—plans to open a street-level restaurant by March 2019 that will effectively offer room service for tenants, as they can go down to the restaurant, say they are having a dinner party, and expect to see Robuchon or his staff appear later on the service elevator with a meal.

The first tenants should start moving in this summer, and the building has already attracted celebrities including Cindy Crawford and George and Amal Clooney. However, Rosen acknowledged that some early sales went for below the prices he sought.

Rosen’s RFR Realty and China Vanke, its partner, started to work on 100 East 53rd Street when sales of luxury apartments were still going strong but quickly ran into a large amount of competition from other developments. He said he is confident that the building will still make money but does not know if it will “kill it.”

Rosen’s interview with the FT also touched on Donald Trump and the Kushners. The developer is no stranger to politics, having put up a giant billboard in 2016 at one of his New York buildings reading “Vote your conscience!” in a nod to Ted Cruz, Trump’s former rival for the nomination. Rosen said he was not concerned about the Trump administration deterring foreign buyers from his properties.

And while he described the Kushners as “nice” people, he also said their experience as developers does not make them qualified for government work.

“You get a construction done, you get a good architect and 24 months later, if you sell condos, you’re a hero. If you make money you’re more than a hero,” he said, explaining how success works in the development world. “It doesn’t work like this in politics.” [FT]Eddie Small