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Old Posted Dec 2, 2014, 1:58 AM
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Second bet on Far West Side

December 01, 2014
By Rich Bockmann

...Spitzer recently made a second move on his most visible project, which is planned for the Hudson Yards area, The Real Deal has learned.
A year ago, he paid $88 million to buy a development site at 511 West 35th Street. Then several months ago, he quietly acquired control of a land lease on a plot adjacent to the development site, a move that doubles the project’s development potential.

The second plot, at the northwest corner of 35th Street and 10th Avenue, allows for 172,000 square feet of buildable space as of right. Through a pair of building bonuses available to projects in the neighborhood, that total can be increased to 414,600 square feet.

Spitzer plans to build a hotel with retail and possibly a residential component on the site he owns next door, which holds 414,744 buildable square feet. If combined, the two sites could allow for a large building holding nearly 830,000 square feet — a project that would plant the Spitzer name in one of the city’s hottest new neighborhoods.

An active developer in the area, Jorge Madruga of Maddd Equities, purchased a 99-year-lease on the corner property earlier this year for $62 million. Neither Spitzer nor Madruga would comment, but a source unconnected to either said Spitzer now controls the site.

Spitzer also hired the law firm Sheldon Lobel, which specializes in land-use and zoning matters, to lobby the Department of City Planning regarding the portion of the site he owns outright.

The project is a complicated one with lots of moving parts, and something that may be difficult for a first-time developer, but observers say Spitzer has surrounded himself with industry professionals who can pull these kinds of deals off.

Those people include Charles Morisi, the man who served as Bernard Spitzer’s right-hand man for more than 25 years, and Jeffrey Moerdler, an attorney at the firm Mintz Levin who has advised Spitzer Engineering for a similar period of time.

He’s also working with Bob Knakal, the Massey Knakal chairman who brought Spitzer the deal for 511 West 35th Street. Knakal said he’s “always looking for sites for Eliot.”

“He’s clearly a very smart guy,” said Tim King, managing partner of the Brooklyn-based commercial brokerage CPEX. “All the smart people I know typically surround themselves with the kinds of people who can make whatever needs to happen, happen.”

Spitzer also went into contract earlier this year to buy a large development site on the Williamsburg waterfront, a long-stalled project with an affordable-housing component that comes with a different set of potential stumbling blocks.

“Anything involving waterfront has its own challenges,” King said. “But if there are challenges, then there are benefits. From what I’ve seen so far, I think they’ll do very well.”
NEW YORK heals.

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