Kuafu to buy UES development site for north of $300M

Tower as high as 1,000 feet could rise on World Wide Group’s lot

Proposed renderings of the site at 143-161 East 60th Street (inset: Bob Knakal, top, Kuafu's Zengliang Shan, bottom)
Proposed renderings of the site at 143-161 East 60th Street (inset: Bob Knakal, top, Kuafu's Zengliang Shan, bottom)

Kuafu Properties is in contract to pay north of $300 million for six contiguous Upper East Side properties on a site that would accommodate a large residential development, The Real Deal has learned.

Earlier this month, World Wide Group put the group of largely mixed-use, low-rise buildings at 143-161 East 60th Street, between Lexington and Third avenues, on the market. The site, located across the street from the Bloomingdale’s flagship, offers over 280,000 buildable square feet above grade. The buildings sit on a roughly 20,000 square-foot-lot.

Kuafu, a New York-based Chinese development firm, entered contract for about $1,100 per square foot last week, according to sources familiar with the deal. Although sources said Kuafu will likely build condominiums, its plans are unclear, as it couldn’t be reached for comment.

A Cushman & Wakefield team led by Bob Knakal, Helen Hwang and Clint Olsen marketed the site as a possible redevelopment into a condominium tower that would rise as high as 1,000 feet and contain a retail component. No brokers are representing Kuafu in the deal.

The Cushman brokers and World Wide Group were not immediately available for comment.

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The five-story building at 143 East 60th Street was best known for housing the iconic dive bar Subway Inn until it shuttered late last year.

World Wide Group, a Midtown East-based development firm founded by Victor Elmaleh and now led by James Stanton, acquired the properties over a nine-year period starting in 2005, records show. The biggest single-building buy was the $37 million deal last year for the 11-story commercial property at 155-161 East 60th Street.

Then, last year, the firm paid $8.9 million for the buildings’ collective development rights.

Kuafu is developing Hudson Rise, a proposed Hudson Yards condo-hotel, but is in the midst of a legal dispute with its former business partner Siras Development.