S'pore developer in NY tower deal

PHOTO: S'pore developer in NY tower deal

A Singapore luxury developer is taking a big investment bite in the heart of the Big Apple.

Pontiac Land is involved in a landmark deal to build a 72-storey residential tower next to the famous Museum of Modern Art (Moma) in midtown Manhattan.

The 750,000 sq ft tower will include 36,000 sq ft of new gallery space for the museum.

Pontiac is investing US$200 million (S$248 million) in the project which will cost more than US$1.3 billion to build, chief executive Michael Su told The Straits Times on Wednesday.

The move is part of a trend of Singapore developers increasingly eyeing overseas markets, as the local market feels the weight of several rounds of property curbs.

In March, OUE agreed to buy California's tallest building - the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles - for US$367.5 million.

Pontiac's 72-storey New York building, to be called 53 W. 53rd Street, will feature 145 upscale condominium units.

Mr Su said the project would act as an anchor for Pontiac to invest more in the US high-end property sector, but added that Singapore would remain its core market. Construction is set to begin in the middle of next year.

The privately held firm is controlled by the Kwee brothers who, according to Forbes, had a collective net worth of US$5.2 billion as at August this year.

It said in a statement on Wednesday that it has secured US$860 million in financing for the project's construction from DBS Bank, Maybank, OCBC and United Overseas Bank.

Pontiac is teaming up with international real estate firm Hines and Goldman Sachs Real Estate Principal Investment Asia to develop the building, which will be designed by internationally renowned architect Jean Nouvel. Hines and Goldman Sachs bought the 18,000 sq ft site for US$125 million from the Moma in 2007.

"We have long admired Moma's contribution to the city and the world, and we are pleased that this project will expand its galleries and enhance the visitor experience," said Pontiac Land director Kwee Liong Tek in a statement on Wednesday. He is an avid international art collector who uses works by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein to decorate properties.

Pontiac owns posh hotels like The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, Capella Singapore, Conrad Centennial Singapore and Regent Singapore. It also has upscale residential projects like The Colonnade and Ardmore Residence, as well as retail mall Millenia Walk and Camden Medical Centre.

Singapore's high-end property market has been languishing for well over a year due to several rounds of property curbs. Private home prices in the city centre fell 0.3 per cent in July through September from the preceding quarter, Urban Redevelopment Authority data showed last week.

melissat@sph.com.sg


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