Skyline’s $1B slog: The quest to sell out Queens’ tallest building
Risland lands $60M loan at tallest tower in Queens
Chinese investor bought $161M worth of condos at the Skyline last year
The U.S. subsidiary of Hong Kong-based real estate investment company Risland Holdings has secured a $60 million loan backed by condo units in Queens’ tallest building, Skyline Tower.
The loan, provided by New York bridge lender Emerald Creek Capital, comes just nine months after Risland bought a bunch of apartments at the 67-story building for $161 million.
Risland’s financial maneuvering is the latest in a series of twists at the first billion-dollar condo project in Queens and an ambitious vehicle for foreign investment.
“Progress is going well,” said Eric Benaim, CEO of the brokerage Modern Spaces, which is handling most sales at Skyline Tower. “In the last six to eight weeks, business has picked up.”
Sales of the tower’s penthouse units, however, which have been handled exclusively by Nest Seekers Development Marketing since 2021, are lagging, according to a person familiar with the project.
An agent at Nest Seekers did not respond to a request for comment.
In the past five years, the 800-unit building at 3 Court Square in Long Island City has fetched $700 million in sales and remains 30 percent unsold, according to data firm Marketproof. That’s an improvement from September when it was 40 percent unsold. Sales have averaged about $1,500 per square foot.
Risland is one of three equity investors to own sponsor units, including developer Chris Xu’s United Construction & Development Group and Brian Pun’s FSA Capital, based in Flushing.
While Skyline has received financial backing from companies with roots in China, foreign buyers have scooped up many units at the Skyline as investments. Not one of the 31 units listed for rent is owned by the building sponsor.
Emerald Creek’s $60 million inventory loan is the firm’s largest to date, according to its website, second to a 2021 loan it made for $50 million at the former Tammany Hall building, at 44 Union Square. Managing partner Mark Bahiri was among the founding members of Madison Realty Capital and a partner at the lending firm until 2009.
A representative of Emerald Creek declined to comment on its business at the building. Risland did not respond to a request for comment.
One year ago, Xu again bought big in Queens, taking on a Flushing site in a deal financed by Bank of China. The site has permits for a 19-story, 664,000-square-foot mixed-use project.
The Skyline is not the only megaproject where higher interest rates and a slower residential market may have left developers looking for more financial runway. Extell Development’s Central Park Tower recently landed a $500 million loan secured by unsold apartments.
Condo inventory loans are common as construction on a project finishes and developers are eager to reduce the amount of debt service that construction loans require. They can also be used to return equity to investors in lieu of waiting for additional inventory to sell.