Vici buys Chelsea Piers, leases vast complex back to Betts

Deal replaces Vici’s $72M loan facility secured by West Side property

Chelsea Piers Sold to Vici Properties and Leased Back

From left: Vici CEO Edward Pitoniak, Chelsea Piers chairman Roland Betts and Chelsea Piers on West 23rd Street (Getty, Vici, Marcel René Kalt alias Groovio, CC BY-SA 2.5 – via Wikimedia Commons)

Three decades after developing Chelsea Piers on Manhattan’s Far West Side, Roland Betts sold it this week to Vici Properties, then leased it back.

An exact dollar amount for the deal was not available, as Vici packaged it with two other transactions and released a combined figure of $550 million.

The triple-net lease is for 32 years, plus a 10-year extension that the tenant must exercise if certain conditions are met. The transaction retired a $71.5 million loan facility that Vici provided Chelsea Piers in 2020. It’s not clear how much debt the sports complex’s owners cleared with the deal or how much cash they pocketed.

Betts is 77 and recently listed his townhouse at 313 West 102nd Street for $9.5 million. He previously spent nine years as the lead owner of the partnership that his college buddy and best friend, George W. Bush, put together to buy the Texas Rangers in 1989.

The Chelsea Piers deal is Vici’s first conversion of an initial loan investment into real estate ownership. The property’s facilities total 780,000 square feet over 28 acres between West 17th and West 23rd streets, next to Hudson River Park.

No one from Chelsea Piers was available Friday to comment on the deal, which Vici reached with Chelsea Piers Management and three LLCs: Silver Screen, North River Property and 

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Waterfront Services. The law firm Kramer Levin, which represented Vici, declined to comment.

The annual rent was not disclosed, only that it will increase by 1.25 percent in the third year and 1.5 percent annually thereafter.

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Vici’s strategic rationale for the deal, according to an investor presentation, was that Chelsea Piers’ “size, scale, complexity and highly diverse programming represent a singular source of supply for meeting New Yorkers’ demand for recreational and leisure experiences.”

It noted that the business, which opened in 1995, bounced back from 9/11, the Financial Crisis, Superstorm Sandy and the pandemic. Its 300,000 square feet of commercial space is primarily used as production studios.

Vici’s presentation added that Chelsea Piers faces little risk of new competition in New York’s “supply-constrained market” for such facilities. (It even claimed that Chelsea Piers has the only recreational ice-hockey rinks in the city, although that is not true.) The venue draws 4 million visitors annually, the presentation said.