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Old Posted Mar 26, 2015, 1:27 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: New Jersey - Somerset County
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Ziel Feldman and His Construction Binge Starts With a Pair of High Line Projects

Commercial Observer: This is for our Midtown South issue, so let’s start with what you’re doing there. When are you closing on 518 West 18th Street, which spans West 17th to West 18th Streets and from 10th Avenue to the West Side Highway?

Mr. Feldman: We signed the contract in November of last year. We’re closing in April.

What’s the sale price?

It hasn’t been disclosed and I can’t [tell you] until after the closing.

What address will you use for it?

76 11th Avenue or you know, 18 is a good number, generally, but I’m not sure yet.

What’s going on there?

We’ll have a garage, we’ll have retail, potentially a hotel, restaurants, galleries. We’ll have a beautiful [public] park in front. One building is 400 feet high and one is 300 feet high. The blocks stagger between 80 feet high and 220 feet high. This was a special permit done by the seller [Edison Properties and its equity partners]—in return for giving a park to the city of New York. I think the footprint here is probably about [10,000] to 12,000 feet. And there’s a great entry into our buildings and our hotel through the park. You are going to enter [the building] from the side. All the retail will be [on the side]. This park will definitely have access to the High Line. Maybe we potentially build retail beneath the park. We were very busy between 2009 and 2014. We didn’t buy anything in 2014 until this site came along.

Why not?

Because we found things to be mispriced—a lot of aggressive underwriting.

What was the asking price?

There wasn’t an asking price. They whispered a certain number. At one point there were offers higher than ours. We just convinced them that we’d be the best buyers. There’s nothing to compare.

And how big will the retail component be?

Probably will have as much as 60,000 feet, generally. Whether or not we have [additional] retail [on 12th Avenue] as well, we did not include that because we’re not sure. Twelfth Avenue is a big retail corridor, so this may have townhomes, but it’s really a work in progress.

Who’s the architect?

BIG is our design architect. We are going to team [BIG head Bjarke Ingels] up with some others but we have not decided yet who. So we’ll have an interior design architect [and] an executive architect.

Where will the hotel component be?

If we have a self-standing hotel this would be the east building—maybe with residential above. Whatever hotel it is, it will service and brand the entire project.

Have you selected the hotel brand yet?

We’re talking to many. [It will be] four, five stars. This location is very young—couples, kind of hip. It’s increasingly wealthy. So I’m not sure that most of the five-star brands like the Four Seasons are appropriate for this location. A lot of the plans are still in flux.

If you look here [he points to an early project model], you’ll see both buildings are being designed, even as it changes, so that they’re not blocking each other. So the view of the water is unencumbered. See that gap? We have an office component on one or two floors because there is some demand for 100,000 feet maybe of office in the base.

Of the main building?

Maybe of both buildings and stretching over a bridge of sorts.

You’re responding to a demand for 100,000-square-foot floor plates then?
Well, this area has become a huge demand for office. Google keeps expanding.

Are you trying to get Google in here?

They were one of the bidders on the property. We’ll talk to them more closely.

Why did you want that particular site?

Well we’re building a block away, right at 505 West 19th Street, so we know the area really well. [The 11th Avenue site] allows you to build 850,000 feet. You’re on the water and you’re on the High Line. But the best part about it is it’s going to be the highest building allowed in all of the High Line. The property is what they call shovel ready; it’s all been remediated. It’s the cleanest site we’ve ever been involved with from a construction standpoint
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