Hong Kong Developer Drops $115M on Stalled Manhattan Site

The previous owner, New Empire Real Estate Development, had initially planned a 49-story tower

TRD New York /
Dec.December 19, 2019 12:15 PM
131-141 East 47th Street (Credit: Google Maps)

131-141 East 47th Street (Credit: Google Maps)

As many foreign investors shun New York, one Hong Kong firm is making a big play at a stalled development site in Manhattan.

Hopson Development Holdings dropped $115 million on a stalled development site in Midtown, records filed with the city Thursday show. The developer plans to raise a 34-story tower, according to an announcement filed to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which noted New York City’s status as a global financial center and its ballooning population as rationale for the investment.

The planned development will have approximately 183,310 square feet, according to the announcement, with a total investment of $225 million, including the purchase price.

Bentley Zhao

Bentley Zhao

The previous owner, Bentley Zhao’s New Empire Real Estate Development, paid $81 million for the site at 131-141 East 47th Street in 2015, and soon demolished four existing buildings to make way for a planned 49-story tower. A year later, it adjusted its plans down from a 138-unit tower to a 122-unit tower.

Last year, New Empire was slapped with a lawsuit when brokerage Town New Development alleged the firm refused to pay $210,000 in consulting fees and a $2.2 million termination fee. The lawsuit said New Empire transferred the building from one limited liability corporation to another, rendering the first LLC insolvent. The development has since been stalled.

Now, Hopson Development plans to erect a 34-story tower with 200 units at the site, according to an announcement the company made to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, first reported by Chinese news site Mingtiandi.

“The company wishes to expand its property investment globally through investments in high quality property projects in major cities in order to improve the group’s allocation of assets and bring returns to the group,” Hopson said in its announcement.

Sixty percent of the project will be funded by bank loans, and according to the company’s announcement, Hopson is also hoping for up to $11 million from a preferred equity investor for the development.

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