Billionaire Len Blavatnik Takes Control of Troubled NYC Condo Project
(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Len Blavatnik is taking control of a stalled Manhattan condo project after the developer, HFZ Capital Group, ran out of money.
Blavatnik’s Access Industries and the Witkoff Group bought the property -- at 76 11th Ave. near the High Line park in Chelsea -- in a foreclosure sale Thursday. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The partnership previously acquired the debt on the project.
The new owners have secured financing to resume building the twisty two-tower development, designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. Plans call for 235 condominiums, a hotel with 137 rooms and space for retail and other commercial uses.
“We are committed to completing this long-stalled project, which also includes a new public plaza and entrance to the iconic High Line park,” Steven Witkoff, whose company will be the development partner, said in an emailed statement.
Access Industries will be the project’s majority owner, according to the statement.
“The completed development will be a vibrant addition to the High Line neighborhood,” Jonah Sonnenborn, head of real estate for Access, said in an email. “We’re proud to work with the Witkoff Group to acquire and complete this complex and long-awaited project.”
“HFZ Capital Group has worked tirelessly in cooperation with the Witkoff Group and Access Industries to see that its original vision would be expertly executed and completed,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Headed by Ziel Feldman, HFZ became one of Manhattan’s most prolific luxury condo developers after the 2008 financial crisis. It developed a pipeline of units that came up for sale around 2018 as the oversupplied high-end market was starting to cool. A lender took control in January of four HFZ redevelopment projects, including the Astor on the Upper West Side, 88 and 90 Lexington Ave. in NoMad and 301 W. 53rd St. in Hell’s Kitchen.
HFZ paid $870 million for the one-block site on 11th Avenue in 2015, according to New York City records. An affiliate of the Children’s Investment Fund had three mortgages on the property totaling $595 million.
Blavatnik is the 31st richest person in the world with a net worth of $41.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Access Industries has more than $25 billion in investments in companies such as LyondellBasell Industries NV and Warner Bros. Pictures, according to its website.
Monroe Capital, a Chicago-based asset-management firm, is also a partner in the Chelsea venture.
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