Triangle Assets shelves ODA-designed tower amid softening condo market

Developer is renting out existing buildings in the meantime

Rendering of 303-305 East 44th Street (Credit ODA New York) and the two existing buildings
Rendering of 303-305 East 44th Street (Credit ODA New York) and the two existing buildings

The construction of a condominium tower whose design ODA New York’s Eran Chen once compared to chewing gum is on hold until further notice, the project’s developer told The Real Deal.

Developer Triangle Assets isn’t moving forward with plans to build a 41-story tower at 303-305 East 44th Street. Ben Stavrach, director of leasing and property management at Triangle Assets, said they will hold off on constructing the 44-unit tower until the luxury condo market picks up.

“The condo market has been softening. We’ve decided to ride it out,” he said. “[The pricing] is going to be pretty high up there, and that market is not as strong.”

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Until then, Triangle Assets plans to continue renting out the two existing buildings on the development site. Stavrach said 305 East 44th Street, a four-story residential building, is already leased. The company is still working on finding a commercial tenant for the three-story building at 303 East 44th Street next door.

The developer had filed demolition permits for both buildings in February 2016, but one rent-stabilized tenant refused buyout offers. Triangle Assets filed an application with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal in January 2015 seeking approval to evict the tenant but ultimately abandoned the fight. Stavrach said the tenant still lives in the building.

The buildings have undergone “cosmetic renovations,” including refinishing wood flooring, replacing light fixtures and repainting the entire building, Stavrach said. The developer also refinanced the properties for $18 million in January, which included an $8 million gap mortgage from W Financial Fund, according to documents filed with the city’s Department of Finance. M&T Bank took over the loans shortly thereafter. It does not appear that the developer secured construction financing for the project.

The ODA-designed tower has drawn a lot of attention, due in large part to the 11 full-floor gardens planned for the 23rd through the 41st floors. The private outdoor gardens are created by 16-foot gaps between the floors, which are supported by smooth concrete columns. The tower, Chen told TRD when the new renderings were first unveiled, is intended to look as if it’s being pulled apart.