Qataris shell out $623M for storied Park Lane Hotel
Witkoff-led group bought property decade ago eyeing condo conversion
Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund bought the Park Lane Hotel overlooking Central Park — once called the “world’s greatest site for development” — as the Middle Eastern nation continues its push into New York real estate.
The Qatar Investment Authority paid nearly $623 million to acquire the 46-story hotel at 36 Central Park South from Steve Witkoff’s company, property records show. PincusCo first reported the sale.
It was not immediately clear what the $450 billion sovereign wealth fund plans for the property, which Harry Helmsley developed in the 1960s.
Witkoff bought the hotel in 2013 for $654 million with a plan to convert the bulk of the building’s 600 or so rooms into high-end condos. But by 2016 he and his partners — Harry Macklowe, Howard Lorber’s New Valley and Highgate Holdings — had decided the Billionaires’ Row market had become oversaturated. They put the conversion on hold.
A few months later, Chinese developer Greenland Group bought a 41 percent stake in the project from Kuwait Strategic Investors. The project seemed to be back on track.
But shortly after the deal closed, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit looking to seize the hotel as part of its investigation into the Malaysian businessman Jho Low, who was accused of stealing $4 billion from the Mubadala Investment Company, an Emirati sovereign wealth fund.
Witkoff put the property up for sale in 2017.
“It’s the world’s greatest site for development,” JLL’s Jeffrey Davis, who wasn’t involved in the listing, said at the time.
But Witkoff and his partners had high expectations, and no one met their $1 billion asking price. The owners refinanced the hotel in 2019 with a $615 million loan from Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan, and the Abu Dhabi fund increased its stake in the property as part of the DOJ’s effort to recover funds.
Representatives for the Qatar Investment Authority and Witkoff were not immediately available for comment.
The deal represents the Qataris’ latest move in New York. Late last year, the investment fund teamed up with Scott Rechler’s RXR and Macquarie Capital Principal Finance to provide Meyer Orbach and Josh Gotlib with a $261 million preferred equity investment to finance their purchase of three apartment buildings developed by the late Sheldon Solow.
Qatar owns a stake in Empire Realty Trust. It also backed Michael Stern and Kevin Maloney’s Billionaires’ Row tower at 111 West 57th Street.