UPDATED March 14, 2022, 6:40 p.m.: Putting years of legal fighting behind him, Gary Barnett’s Extell Development is beginning to make progress on a long-awaited Upper West Side condo tower.
Extell landed $967 million in construction financing for the planned 775-foot tower at 50 West 66th Street, the Commercial Observer reported. Barnett’s 127-unit building is slated to stand 69 stories tall and aims to generate $188 million in sales for the first 22 apartments.
Bank OZK was the senior lender in the transaction, providing $800 million, according to the Commercial Observer. JVP Management jumped in with the remaining $167 million via a mezzanine loan.
In addition to its lending on the long-awaited project, Bank OZK has emerged as one of New York’s top lenders behind the city’s commercial construction boom.
As of September, the bank had issued $7.7 billion in construction and land development loans, or 42% of all loans on its balance sheet — the highest share among any bank with more than $5 billion in assets, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Journal reported the bank was preparing to lend $410 million to developer Rabina for an office and luxury residential tower on Fifth Avenue, which the bank told the outlet would be one of its largest.
The building has been years in the making. In 2017, Barnett inked a $202 million air rights deal that allowed him to triple the size of the luxury condo building he was planning, drawing the ire of the nonprofit City Club of New York.
Two years after the air rights deal, City Club sued to block the tower’s construction, arguing Extell had violated zoning rules and miscalculated the proportions of the tower and podium to boost its height. After the case was dismissed, the nonprofit filed an Article 78 petition asking a state judge to review it.
A judge ruled in favor of the nonprofit’s Article 78, voiding Extell’s permits. But the decision was overturned on appeal last July, freeing Extell up to start construction on the building, which is also expected to include an outdoor terrace with a garden and swimming pool.
Extell was still pursuing a lawsuit against City Club as of December, accusing it of reneging on an agreement that caused years of headaches and legal costs. The nonprofit, meanwhile, claims nothing was signed and says Extell is abusing the court system.
[CO] — Holden Walter-Warner
Correction: The developer Rabina was misspelled in an earlier version of this story. Also, this story was revised to note that the $188 million in sales is Extell’s target for the first 22 apartments, not the entire building.