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Old Posted May 18, 2017, 10:33 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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Hadid’s tower of hubris isn’t half bad: The late architect’s skyscraper would be an improvement for Midtown — if it were ever built

To say that Zaha Hadid’s TRData LogoTINY recently revealed designs for 666 Fifth Avenue may never be built is, of course, an understatement, lending an air of reality to a project that has essentially no grounding in it.

The late architect’s drawings, commissioned by the Kushner Companies shortly before her death, show a high-concept monument that would replace the site’s 41-story tower with an 80-story superluxe skyscraper — securing, in the process, the Kushners’ increasingly tenuous hold on the shining trophy that announced their ascendance from New Jersey developers to Manhattan big shots. (The overleveraged deal also happens to be presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner’s main claim to real estate prowess.)

The obstacles, of course, are many. The most substantive being the dearth of investors willing to pay for a trophy tower at a time when half a dozen such projects have been abandoned as unviable. And time, in this case, is very much of the essence. As was recently noted in the New York Times, Kushner needs to “bring in a fresh infusion of cash or a well-heeled partner willing to foot the bill, if it wants to hold on to the building.”

In recent years, the building has failed to produce enough income to pay its debts, according to the Times, with the owners filling the ever-widening shortfall from their own pockets. More ominously, the interest-only $1.2 billion mortgage is scheduled to come due in less than two years. Earlier this year, it looked like Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese company that bought the Waldorf Astoria, might come to the Kushners’ rescue, but Anbang ultimately walked away. Another investor has yet to emerge.

In the event that one does, the plan is to raze the existing structure and, following the model of other recent supertall buildings, rebuild it as a mixed-use space with most of the upper floors given over to residential condos and, on the lower levels, a hotel, office space and retail.

The Kushners also intend to change the name and address of the building to 660 Fifth Avenue. Allegedly, this new structure would be worth an unheard-of $12 billion, including the residential condos.