The Real Deal New York

Brookfield’s Ric Clark talks 666 Fifth plan

Will resemble repositioning at 5 Manhattan West
By Konrad Putzier and Will Parker | May 18, 2018 02:47PM

Ric Clark and 666 Fifth Avenue

Ric Clark and 666 Fifth Avenue

Brookfield Property Partners chairman Ric Clark spoke publicly Friday for the first time since news broke that the company plans to invest in Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue.

“We think the strategy for that building to enhance value is right up our alley, it’s something that we’ve done multiple times,” Clark said at the Catalyst real estate conference Friday. He cited the company’s repositioning and retrofitting of 5 Manhattan West, which is now fully occupied and counts tenants like Amazon and JPMorgan Chase.

Vornado Realty Trust announced earlier this year that it would sell its 49.5 percent interest in the office tower to Kushner Companies, the majority partner. But Kushner Companies has sought a lender to refinance the building’s $1.2 billion mortgage, which comes due in February. Bringing Brookfield into the mix may well help them achieve that, but Clark declined to provide more details, other than to confirm that discussions were ongoing and say that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, which owns 7 percent of Brookfield’s stock, has no involvement or direct investment in the deal.

Kushner Companies had previously planned to convert the 1.5 million-square foot office tower into a 1,400-foot-tall luxury condominium and hotel skyscraper designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, but struggled to find investors who could be sold on that vision. That included minority partner Vornado, whose CEO Steve Roth reportedly said the property would be worth more if it were “dirt.”

In April, Charles Kushner told the New York Times “we don’t know what we’re going to do” for renovation plans at the tower, which is widely considered out-of-date for the 21st century office market and is currently about 30 percent vacant. But sources familiar with plans told the Times that Kushner aims to renovate office space on the lower floors while considering converting the top floors into residential condos.

In a March interview with the Washington Post,  Kushner confirmed earlier reports that he met with Qatari officials the year prior, discussing financing for 666 Fifth at the St. Regis. Hotel in Manhattan. However, Kushner said he took the meeting “as a courtesy” and said that his company, which was formerly helmed by White House adviser Jared Kushner, would not take money from sovereign wealth funds.