Howard Hughes buys stake in Jean-Georges

Seaport developer already home to one of celebrity chef's eateries

From left: Howard Hughes CEO David O’Reilly and Jean-Georges Vongerichten in front of the Tin Building at the Seaport (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian with Getty Images, Howard Hughes and Twitter/arcofnyc)
From left: Howard Hughes CEO David O’Reilly and Jean-Georges Vongerichten in front of the Tin Building at the Seaport (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian with Getty Images, Howard Hughes and Twitter/arcofnyc)

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. But you can certainly invest in it.

The Howard Hughes Corporation purchased a 25 percent stake in Jean-Georges Restaurants, the New York Post reported. The restaurant empire of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten spans 40 restaurants, including the Tin Building at the Seaport, which is set to partially open this month.

Hughes paid $45 million for the minority stake in the business, and another $10 million for an option to buy an additional 20 percent of the company down the road. The outlet noted it could be the largest stake taken in a restaurant group by a single real estate company.

The management team of JGR will retain control of day-to-day operations of the company. Hughes plans on providing capital to keep growing the restaurant group around the globe.

Hughes is the owner of the Tin Building, paying for its development and construction and leasing it back to Vongerichten. The three-level food hall spans 53,000 square feet inside the landmarked building at 96 South Street.

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Last month, Hughes announced high-end fashion designer Alexander Wang would be moving its global headquarters to 46,000 square feet in the Fulton Market Building. The fashion company will be the building’s anchor tenant when it moves from 386 Broadway next year.

Hughes sold off $2 billion worth of “non-core” assets two years ago, but has seemingly put all of its chips towards the success of its developments in the Seaport.

Last year, Hughes scored final approval for a mixed-use project at 250 Water Street after years of battling neighborhood activists. The 26-story project will include 270 rental units above a five-story base with office, retail and community space. The $850 million project will include 70 affordable housing units.

— Holden Walter-Warner