Extell adds $107M loan for its controversial Lincoln Square condo project

Funding is the latest installment on nearly $1B in financing for two projects

A photo illustration of Extell Development's Gary Barnett and renderings of the planned 25-story project at 36-44 West 66th Street (Getty, Extell Development, NYC DOB)
A photo illustration of Extell Development's Gary Barnett and renderings of the planned 25-story project at 36-44 West 66th Street (Getty, Extell Development)

Extell Development is hoping that more money won’t mean more problems for its Lincoln Center condo development.

On Friday, the Gary Barnett-led firm received a $107 million building loan from Bank OZK for the 160-unit development at 36 West 66th Street, public records show.

It’s the latest in an ongoing series of installments from a $967 million construction financing loan the developer landed in February 2022. That loan covers work at the planned 25-story condo tower at 36-44 West 66th Street, as well as what will become the Upper West Side’s tallest tower — a 69-story residential skyscraper directly next door at 50 West 66th Street.

Extell acquired the parcels for a combined $130 million through two transactions. In 2014, the firm landed 44 West 66th Street for $45 million, then partnered with Megalith, which acquired the three adjacent buildings at 36-40 West 66th Street from Disney for $85 million.

Since the condo project’s filing in November 2015, the 37,000-square-foot site has been the center of several local dramas, mostly stemming from the proposed building’s height.

In 2019, Extell was hit with a lawsuit by the nonprofit City Club of New York after the developer scooped up $202 million worth of air rights at 15 West 65th Street from the Jewish Guild for the Blind and Disney.

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The City Club claimed Barnett’s firm had violated zoning codes by planning four, mostly empty mechanical floors underneath the tower section of the building, artificially increasing the project’s height by roughly 200 feet.

It was also sued over claims that the developers were abusing the site’s address, which straddled two different zoning lots, by selectively picking and choosing which zoning codes to obey.

After a political maelstrom over the issue, the Department of Buildings wrote a letter to Extell threatening to revoke permits for the project, writing to the developers that the 160-foot mechanical spaces did not “meet the definition of ‘accessory use.’”

The lawsuits came to a head in 2020, when New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur F. Engoron ruled against Extell, vacating the existing permits and noting that under current zoning restrictions the DOB should have never issued a permit for the project to begin with.

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However, in July 2021 that decision was overturned on appeal, allowing Extell to resume construction.

Last year, the project made headlines again after a sizable oil spill at the construction site was misreported by the fire department, which missed a zero when sending out a media report. It was 70 gallons of diesel — not 700 — that spilled out of the Extell construction site. No injuries were reported.