Vanbarton quietly taps KPF as NoMad tower architect

Lender foreclosed on HFZ Capital Group’s former project, hasn’t sold to new developer

New York /
Jan.January 11, 2022 08:00 AM

From left: Gary M. Tischler, founder and managing partner, Vanbarton Group; Eugene (Gene) Kohn, chairman, KPF (Getty Images, KPF, Google Maps/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

 

UPDATED Jan. 11, 2022, 5:15 p.m.: Vanbarton Group appears to have found a holy alliance for its NoMad office project.

The New York firm is drawing up plans for a new development next to the Marble Collegiate Church and has tapped Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) as its architect over a year after it initiated a foreclosure tied to the site.

Vanbarton foreclosed on the equity stake of a joint venture between HFZ Capital and the Marble Collegiate Church in March amid the implosion of HFZ’s real estate portfolio. The foreclosure gave Vanbarton control of the site at 3 West 29th Street, which was approved for an office high-rise.

But unlike many lenders who initiate a foreclosure then sell their stake to another developer, Vanbarton plans to go ahead with construction on their own project, according to a person familiar with the situation.

HFZ’s plans initially called for a 64-story residential tower. But by 2019, the developer had shifted to a 600,000-square-foot, 34-story office building designed by star architect Bjarke Ingels and dubbed 29th & 5th.

Vanbarton’s plans will differ from HFZ’s in height and configurations. Construction is expected to start in the fourth quarter, the person said.

Vanbarton is working with KPF on the design. KPF was the architect behind the design of SL Green’s 93-story supertall One Vanberbilt, as well as 10 and 30 Hudson Yards. A spokesperson for KPF declined to comment.

In recent years, HFZ entered into a partnership with Marble Collegiate, a nearly 400-year old church and the oldest Protestant church in the country. The church was known for its longtime pastor Norman Vincent Peale, who authored the influential book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and in 1977 officiated the wedding of Donald and Ivana Trump. Peale died in 1993. The former president had been a member, attending the church for decades with his parents.

Marble Collegiate planned to use the money from the development to restore its landmarked building and fund its programs. The value of its stake in the joint venture was reported to be around $40 million. It is unclear if the church will be involved with the new project with Vanbarton. A representative for the church could not be reached for comment.

Investor documents show the projected value of the development to be $1.3 billion as of 2019, with the developers’ equity stake totaling $238 million, or roughly 18 percent of the total.

HFZ and the church lost their stake in the project last year after the developer fell behind on its $90.9 million mezzanine loan with the Vanbarton Group.

Vanbarton, headed by managing partners Gary Tischler and Richard Coles, are among a number of lenders who are also developers.

The company recently unveiled a new office building at 15 Laight Street in Tribeca, the former home of the Tribeca Film Festival. The company foreclosed last year on Prodigy’s co-working and co-living facility at 17 John Street known as the Assemblage John Street.




     
     
     

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