Witkoff, Blavatnik set to resume XI condo project with new contractor

Stalled by former developer HFZ’s woes, luxury High Line building is now expected to be completed in 2024

Steve Witkoff of Witkoff Group, Len Blavatnik of Access Industries and the XI (Getty Images, The XI)
Steve Witkoff of Witkoff Group, Len Blavatnik of Access Industries and the XI (Getty Images, The XI)

With a new developer and general contractor in place, the long-stalled XI condo project in Chelsea is poised to begin rising above the High Line once more.

Construction on the beleaguered project will soon resume, according to YIMBY, which reports that a sign posted at the development site proclaims a revised completion date of winter 2024.

Once the crown jewel of developer HFZ Capital Group’s portfolio, the twisting-tower luxury development at 76 11th Avenue recently fell into the hands of Steve Witkoff’s Witkoff Group and Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, who bought it in a December foreclosure sale triggered by HFZ’s financial struggles.

According to YIMBY, the price was $900 million. Witkoff Group and Access Industries then secured financing to resume construction on the 900,000-square-foot development, where work had been paused since late 2019. Asset management firm Monroe Capital is also a partner in the venture.

The two towers are slated to rise to 26 stories and 36 stories, respectively. The project will include 235 condos, 137 hotel rooms, 85,000 square feet of retail space and a public plaza.

In addition to the change of developer, there’s also been a change in contractor. According to YIMBY, the sign at the construction site indicates that Suffolk Construction Corporation has replaced Omnibuild as the project’s general contractor.

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The project’s lender, a subsidiary of The Children’s Investment Fund, scheduled a UCC foreclosure on HFZ’s stake in the project in October, culminating in December’s sale to Witkoff and Blavatnik.

The hedge fund had provided HFZ with a $1.25 billion construction loan in 2017, including a senior mortgage and a pair of mezzanine loans.

It was just one of numerous foreclosures, lawsuits or liens faced by Ziel Feldman’s HFZ in recent years. Feldman has largely pinned the firm’s demise on his former business partner, Nir Meir, who Feldman alleges used HFZ money on personal expenses kept him in the dark about financial problems at the XI; Meir’s attorneys have denied the allegations.

An appellate court recently ruled against Feldman regarding another HFZ project, partially reversing a lower court ruling that had authorized a lender to go after Meir for money it said it was owed, but not HFZ.

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[YIMBY] — Holden Walter-Warner