Asian Investment Revives Manhattan Tower Project

Asian Investment Revives Manhattan Tower Project

Residential News » North America Residential News Edition | By Francys Vallecillo | October 30, 2013 11:47 AM ET

A new $1 billion financing commitment from Asia is breathing life into a stalled Jean Nouvel-designed residential tower next to the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan. 

Singapore property developer Pontiac Land Group, owned by the billionaire Kwee family, is making a $300 million equity investment in the tower, according to the Wall Street Journal. An additional $860 million construction financing was secured from Asian banks, according to a company announcement. 

The 72-story tower, designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning French architect, is known as 53 W. 53rd Street and will feature 145 luxury condominiums. The building's lower floor will include 36,000 square feet of new gallery space for the museum's second, fourth and fifth floor, the largest expansion for the museum since 2004. 

"We are delighted to partner with Hines and Goldman Sachs on this landmark project," Kwee Liong Tek, director of Pontiac Land Group, said in an announcement. "We have long admired MoMA's contribution to the city and the world, and we are pleased that this project will expand their galleries and enhance the visitor experience."

The tower's owners, Houston-based property developer Hines and Goldman Sachs, acquired the 18,000-square-foot site from the museum in 2007. 

Hines originally planned a 1,250-foot-tall skyscraper with a hotel along with the apartments. However, the project stalled during the economic recession. The developer also faced scrutiny from neighbors due to the tower's height on a small space. 

It "would be one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan on a lot barely the size of a McDonald's franchise," the Historic Districts Council, an independent organization, wrote on its website. 

Hines won plan approval for a tower 200 feet shorter in 2009. At 1,050-feet tall, it will be the fifth tallest building in New York City. 

The project is one of the latest examples of development revivals as the economy stabilizes and investor interest grows. 

Earlier this year, New York developer Larry Silverstein received $930 million from the U.K.-based investor Children's Investment Fund Management to restart an 82-story Four Seasons Hotel and private residences downtown, the WSJ reports.

The Kwee family is one of Singapore's largest property owners, with an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion, according to Forbes magazine. 

Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2014 with the first residents expected in late 2018, the company said. 

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