Pontiac Land to invest in Manhattan luxury condo

New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) is about to get the luxury touch, thanks to Singapore-based property developer, Pontiac Land.

The company, controlled by the four Kwee brothers – whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at around US$5.3 billion – plans to invest in a 72-story luxury residential tower adjacent to the famous art museum.

The 750,000 square feet building will be designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, and also includes an extension of gallery space for the museum.

Michael Su, CEO of Pontiac Land, said: “New York has been a very resilient market, and has always been seen as a world city. So for us, selecting the site is important. A world city to us is really a city with a concentration of culture, a city with a concentration of education, a city with a concentration of commerce, transparency.”

The luxury tower project has been in the works since plans were first unveiled in 2007, but was quickly shelved following the financial crisis.

The Singapore developer reportedly is investing around US$300 million to revive the building project.

Pontiac Land has also secured US$860 million in financing from a consortium of Southeast Asian banks.

Pontiac’s Midtown Manhattan investment is just the latest in a string of high-profile Asian investments in the US.

In March, Singapore-listed Overseas Union Enterprise snapped up California’s tallest building – US Bank Tower – for US$367 million.

And according to Jones Lang LaSalle, Chinese outbound property investment has already exceeded US$5 billion so far this year, around US$1 billion more than the total for 2012.

Alistair Meadows, head of the International Capital Group in Asia Pacific at Jones Lang LaSalle , said: “A number of developers, for example, have excess cash flow that they want to diversify outside of their home market.

“I think there’s the view that valuations on US property currently are attractive, that with the improvement in the US economy that there’s upside in the US at the moment.

“The other reason from an investment perspective is the search for yield. We’re in a very low interest rate environment here in Singapore and across Asia, and there is the ability to buy good quality, stabilized, income-producing assets that offer high yields in the US, Australia and the United Kingdom than are currently available in Asia.”

Meanwhile, Pontiac Land is ready to look at its next overseas target for investment.

Currently, the company owns a portfolio of luxury assets in Singapore which include The Ritz-Carlton and Conrad hotels.

Mr Su said: “We see this as a strategic investment. We will look at other opportunities. So I would say we’re interested in all those cities – global cities. It could be outside the United States.

“If the opportunity presents itself in London tomorrow, we would be interested. I think today, with this financial crisis, many of the European markets are quite interesting. The yields look interesting, the property cycle seems to be right. I wouldn’t rule out Europe either.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 30 Oct 2013

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