Extell looks to have brought in Chinese equity partner at Central Park Tower

Documents indicate SMI may be involved in ultra-luxury condo project

Gary Barnett and a rendering of Central Park Tower
Gary Barnett and a rendering of Central Park Tower

Gary Barnett’s Extell Development appears to have scored a capital partner for one if its most ambitious projects yet, the Central Park Tower at 217 West 57th Street.

New documents filed with the New York Attorney General’s office indicate that the firm’s new partner on the Billionaires’ Row luxury condominium may be SMI USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Shanghai Municipal Investment, the largest state-owned enterprise in Shanghai.

Neither SMI nor Extell would immediately confirm the partnership, but several documents hint at SMI’s involvement.

For instance, Extell refiled its plans for the project with the AG’s office under a new corporate entity, after pulling its original offering plan last year. The new entity, SMITELL LLC, may be a combination of the two firms’ names. Extell [TRDataCustom] transferred title to the site to that new entity in June.

And in December, another LLC was registered under the name SMI Central Park Tower, LLC, according to public records from the state of Delaware.

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The tower is slated to rise 1,550 feet and cost $2.98 billion, according to EB-5 investor documents from June.

Barnett has been widely said to be seeking a new capital partner for months.

As of May 2015, Extell held a whopping 87 percent of the equity in the project, according to regulatory filings on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, where the developer sold $300 million worth of bonds. Compare that to Extell’s far smaller exposure at One57, where it owns just 12 percent of the equity.

SMI has been an active player in the New York real estate market in recent months. It is partnering with Ceruzzi Properties at 520 Fifth Avenue, a $1 billion condo project in Midtown.

Extell first filed the offering plan for Central Park Tower last July but withdrew it shortly after, prompting speculation that Barnett was negotiating with a prospective new partner. The project was slated to have 182 units and a total sellout of $4.4 billion, a number that includes the sale of the commercial space at the base to retail giant Nordstrom.  The average asking price for the condos was coming to about $6,500 per square foot.

The new offering plan filed by the company calls for 179 units but does not specify prices, so it’s possible those numbers could have been amended since.