Vlad Doronin nears massive refi for condo, hotel project at Crown Building

Aman-branded residences developed by OKO Group closing in on $820M from JPMorgan

OKO's Vladislav Doronin with the Crown Building (OKO Group, Google Maps)
OKO's Vladislav Doronin with the Crown Building (OKO Group, Google Maps)

Vladislav Doronin’s OKO Group is closing in on around $820 million from JPMorgan to refinance its luxury condo and hotel project at the Crown Building, The Real Deal has learned.

The project, which occupies the top 20 floors of the building at 730 Fifth Avenue, is expected to be completed in the coming months, about seven years after Doronin partnered with developer Michael Shvo to purchase the space for $475 million.

OKO Group is converting the upper portion of the building from office space to 22 luxury condos and an 83-room hotel under Doronin’s Aman Resorts brand, with amenities including an outdoor dining terrace, a three-floor spa and a jazz club.

One of the condos, a five-story penthouse, went into contract for $180 million in 2018 — among the priciest homes ever sold in the city. Doronin told the Wall Street Journal in 2019 that two additional units were under contract for a combined $145 million.

OKO Group previously secured $750 million in financing for the project in 2019, including a $300 million senior loan from Bank OZK and $450 million of mezzanine debt from Cain International.

JP Morgan declined to comment through a spokesperson. OKO Group and Aman Resorts did not immediately return a request for comment.

The landmarked building was constructed in 1921 by August Heckscher and designed by architects Warren and Wetmore, who also worked on Grand Central Terminal. It was the original home to the Museum of Modern Art starting in 1929.

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The Beaux Arts-style building was acquired in 1981 by then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Its ownership became the subject of litigation after the fall of the Marcos regime and was sold in 1991 to Bernard Spitzer, the father of future Governor Eliot Spitzer.

In 2015, Wharton Properties’ Jeff Sutton and General Growth Properties acquired the 390,000-square-foot building from Eliot Spitzer for $1.8 billion. Wharton and General Growth held onto the retail floors at the base, but quickly sold the upper portion to Doronin and Shvo.

Two years later, Shvo was sidelined as co-developer after being indicted on tax evasion charges, but he retained an equity stake, according to sources. Shvo’s firm now uses the Crown Building in its marketing materials.

In 2019, Sutton’s Wharton Properties sold everything except a nominal piece of its 50 percent stake in the building’s retail floors to partner Brookfield Property Partners for $779 million.

Last month, protestors gathered near the property to demand Doronin’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The developer, who was born in St. Petersburg when it was part of the Soviet Union, denounced “the aggression of Russia on Ukraine” and claimed to have “not conducted business in Russia for many years” in a statement provided to TRD.

Outside New York, Doronin is also planning an Aman-branded and OKO-developed luxury condo and hotel project in Miami Beach with Len Blavatnik.