Witkoff and Access Industries’ One High Line signs lofty contracts
Deals roll in after years of delays, construction issues and partnership meltdown
Witkoff Group’s Steve Witkoff and Access industries’ Len Blavatnik with 76 11th Avenue (Getty, Witkoff Group, Bjarke Ingels Group)
Almost eight years ago, Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Capital coughed up an extravagant sum for a West Chelsea development site it later dubbed XI.
At the time, Feldman brushed off claims that he overpaid for the dirt, which set his firm back $870 million, or $1,100 per buildable square foot, and ranked among the priciest land deals in the city’s history.
“It meant nothing to me,” Feldman told The Real Deal in 2017, referring to press coverage of the criticism. “Never heard anybody say that this isn’t the best piece of land in the city of New York.”
His troubled firm is no longer at the helm of what was once its crown jewel development, but Feldman’s long-ago claims may finally be substantiated. After years of construction delays, a partnership meltdown and total rebrand, One High Line is now locking down buyers for its penthouses with asking prices in the double-digit millions.
The condo project at 500 West 18th Street, now headed by Steve Wikoff’s Witkoff Group and Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, has the highest asking price per square foot in West Chelsea at $3,515, about $300 shy of what Feldman said in 2018 he hoped to glean for units due to the draw of the planned on-site Six Senses hotel and spa.
Corcoran Sunshine’s Deborah Kern and Steve Gold are leading sales at the building with a projected sellout of over $2 billion. The team took over from Douglas Elliman following the project’s distressed development period.
Closings are set to begin this summer, according to Corcoran president and CEO Pam Liebman, but the numbers attached to recent contracts have already caught eyes among market observers in downtown Manhattan.
Last week, PH36 at the building notched the priciest contract signed in Manhattan, with an asking price of $52 million. Though lower than the original $65 million offered in 2018, the six-bedroom unit’s asking price is still notable in downtown Manhattan where $50 million deals are scarce.
If sold at that price, the 7,000-square-foot penthouse would be among the most expensive sales in the neighborhood, second only to a penthouse at The Getty, which closed for $59 million in 2018, according to data from Marketproof.
Contract signings at the property have regularly topped weekly reports, including one inked in the last week of April for a 5,700-square-foot penthouse last asking $28 million.
Since sales launched last September, 33 of the building’s 235 units have entered contract, according to Marketproof. One High Line was the top-performing new development last month in terms of deal count and dollar volume, with nine contracts signed with asking prices totaling $69 million.
Witkoff and Access paid $900 million for the development at a December 2021 foreclosure sale prompted by the project’s initial lender, a subsidiary of The Children’s Investment Fund (TCI).
The hedge fund supplied HFZ with a $1.25 billion construction loan in 2017, ending the developer’s nearly 18-month quest for financing. At the time, Feldman pushed back in a 2017 interview with TRD against what appeared to be a “long search” for funding.
Despite the financing, HFZ halted construction on the project just two years later, as the company — once one of the most prolific condo developers in the city — became embroiled in financial strife resulting in a number of foreclosures, lawsuits and liens.
Witkoff-Access partnership, along with asset management firm Monroe Capital, relaunched construction last spring on the 900,000-square-foot project, which includes condos, 137 hotel rooms, a spa, commercial retail space and a public plaza.
Suffolk Construction Corporation, which replaced Omnibuild as the general contractor on the project, is building the 36- and 26-story twisting towers. Gilles & Boissier and Gabellini Sheppard Associates are designing the interiors.
Amenities in the building also include a golf simulator, lap pool, fitness center with private training studios and on-site parking.