NEW YORK | 36 Central Park S. (1 Park Lane) | 1,210 FT | FLOORS

Continuing the discussion from NEW YORK | 57th Street Corridor “Billionaires Row” NEW:

Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South fetches $660M

The property was bought by Developer Steven Witkoff and a Malaysian equity partner, Jynwel Capital, who plan to operate it as a hotel as they mull options such as a residential conversion or tearing it down and building anew.

By Daniel Geiger
November 26, 2013

Developer Steven Witkoff has teamed up with a Malaysian equity partner, Jynwel Capital, to buy the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South for $660 million. The transaction, which was financed by Wells Fargo and Criterion Real Estate Capital, closed on Monday, the partnership between Mr. Witkoff and Jynwel announced.

The deal is the latest of several high profile real estate transactions completed with an investor from the Far East. In late October, the Kwee family from Singapore invested $300 million into a planned mixed use tower at 53 W. 53rd St., which has been popularly known as the MoMA Tower because it will provide expansion space in its base for the MoMA, which is next door. Asian financiers also bankrolled that project’s $860 million construction loan, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Witkoff, one of the city’s most prolific developers of residential space, said that Jynwel shared his vision of continuing to operate the property as a hotel, while contemplating future plans for the site.

“This was a unique deal because we’re keeping the hotel operations,” Mr. Witkoff said. “It’s a cash flow deal, the hotel earns about $20 to $25 million annually, which is enough to service this debt while we consider longer term plans.”

Mr. Witkoff said that the building could eventually be renovated, either fully or partially converted over to residential use, or demolished and redeveloped from the ground up as either residential, hotel or a mixture of both.

“What we like is that there are a lot of options here and we’re still contemplating them,” Mr. Witkoff said.

Several minority partners have also invested in the deal. They include New Valley, Highgate Holdings, and Macklowe Properties. Mr. Witkoff said Highgate, an operator of hotels, would help run the Park Lane Hotel. Macklowe Properties would appear to bring additional development experience. That company, chaired by Harry Macklowe, is in the process of co-developing a project in that neighborhood, the nearby residential spire 432 Park Ave.

The Park Lane Hotel, which was built by Harry and Leona Helmsley, and sold by the late Mrs. Helmsley’s trust, sits along Central Park South between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, a stretch that is considered one of the city’s most valuable locations. The area has seen several plans take shape in recent months for a new generation of super-tall ultra-luxury towers that offer sweeping view of Central Park and are asking for record prices.

In addition to Jynwel and the Kwee family, several other Asian investors have made bold entries into New York City real estate in recent months. Greenland Holdings Group, a real estate development and investment company owned by the Chinese government, has entered into a contract to acquire a majority stake in the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn. Fosun International, another group from China, entered into a deal to acquire the office property 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza in lower Manhattan for $725 million in October.

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

And yet a quiet campaign is in the works to secure landmark protection for the 46-story limestone and glass tower. It is not being led by the usual suspects, like preservationists, community groups or politicians. The charge, what little of it there is, is spearheaded by a TriBeCa architect who works mostly on downtown loft buildings; a real estate lawyer from Montclair, N.J.; and a former State Senate candidate from Queens who worked in the Giuliani administration.

Those following the effort are fairly certain that it has a particular purpose: halting plans to replace the hotel with yet another cloud-buster overlooking Central Park. But what remains a mystery is whether the three men are campaigning alone, or in concert with some as-yet-unknown party, perhaps a rival developer or wealthy condominium owner trying to protect his or her own valuable views of the park.

There are few words that will make a New York property owner cringe more than “landmark.” But this time, one might just be using it as a weapon against another.

“I’m astonished by this whole thing,” said Steven C. Witkoff, the developer who, with Harry B. Macklowe, bought the hotel last year for $660 million with plans to replace it eventually with an 850-foot tower. “I’m amazed anyone would think to stoop this low.”


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First Look: 36 Central Park South, Park Lane Hotel Redevelopment


The imminent redevelopment of the Park Lane Hotel at 36 Central Park South has become one of the most talked about projects in real estate over the last few weeks, as reports emerged of a frivolous battle to preserve the original structure as a landmark. Now, YIMBY has obtained the first renderings of what the replacement may look like, though the images likely do not depict a final product.

Still, the idea conveyed is perfectly clear, and it appears that the original structure will receive a gut-renovation and vertical addition, avoiding a complete tear-down.

Unfortunately, onerous neighborhood zoning may prevent the complete demolition of the current building, which is a relative eyesore on the Central Park skyline. Per the Wall Street Journal, a completely new development would only be able to contain two-thirds of the tower’s current 370,000 square feet.

This invites creativity with the existing envelope, in a way similar to 425 Park Avenue, where the bottom portion of the original structure will also be integrated into the new building. The mandate for preservation is completely arbitrary and nonsensical, but so is most of the city’s zoning policy, so in the context of greater bureaucratic incoherency, it actually makes sense.

In the rendered plans, produced by Spivak Architects, the Park Lane emerges from its conversion as a plain and glassy box, with some additional height. Essentially, current FAR is reconfigured within a taller envelope to give higher ceilings, which are a must for new luxury developments.

The inflexibility of existing zoning translates into a rather banal design. While the tower would be dominated by the supertalls along 57th Street anyways, Central Park South is deserving of the best design possible; to the east, 220 Central Park South offers a glimpse at what can be built when ground-up construction is viable.

While indications are to the contrary, per Witkoff, the above images “have nothing to do with 36 CPS.”


36 Central Park South Supertower Proposal

36 Central Park South Supertower Proposal
New York, NY

Proposal for replacement of The Witkoff Group’s existing Park Lane Hotel property with a 100 storey residential tower :slight_smile:


Do you guys have any news on this “slender tall” at ONE PARK LANE?

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As per the WSJ, this will be 900’ tall. It appears that the HdM design that Yimby found on EB-5 is what will rise.

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I think your right. TDR claims 1,210 ft but wsj saids 900 feet. I wonder if this is 100% certain because 1,210 feet would be nice. Kinda seems like Witkoff is not living to his best potential for the site. At 1.7 billion, that is a lot of money for 900 feet. Seems like it would be priced for a super tall design.

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But look at the success that Virnado had with a 950’ tower.

I think the WSJ’s figure is right.

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If it’s what Yimby found on the EB-5, I’m disappointed in height and design, but it’s better than the current structure!

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I believe that’s what will rise. I agree with you, Lion. The funny thing is that only in NY can we be let down by a 900’ HdM with a curved facade!

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Rooms cannot be reserved after October 31, 2016, which leads me to believe that this hotel will close at that time.


Sounds about right if they wanna get this thing done by 2020

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I agree.

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Looks like this isn’t happening anytime soon…

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It will happen in the next cycle. In this instance, Witkoff has a revenue generating asset, not an empty lot that still has to cover debt payments. Thus, there’s no rush.

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We have enough towers in the vicinity currently under construction to keep us busy for the next couple of years. Hopefully this won’t discourage other developments in the neighborhood, especially Vornado’s project next to the Solow Building. Witkoff seems to be a very smart guy and is definitely playing this out to figure out the right time to make a move. Considering how prime the property is, Witkoff’s potential Park Lane tower will be a huge success come next cycle.

Vornado has had huge success. I think it’s full steam ahead. Its project for the next cycle is 666 5th Ave.

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I’m pleased that Witkoff is waiting because I did not really care for the 900’ HdM design. I’ll take a 1,500 landmark in 2020 instead.

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