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Feb. 27, 2014

RFR, Vanke Break Ground on Luxury Condo Tower in Manhattan

(This story originally ran on Commercial Property Executive.)

By Scott Baltic, Contributing Writer

RFRNew York—RFR Holding L.L.C., of New York, and Vanke, China’s largest residential developer, broke ground Tuesday on 610 Lexington Ave., a luxury residential condominium on East 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, the developers announced Wednesday.

The slim, white 61-story tower has been designed by Foster + Partners as a counterpoint to the adjacent Seagram Building, the iconic 1958 International Style tower at 375 Park Ave. designed by Mies van der Rohe — and owned by RFR.

RFR and Hines will work together on the condo tower’s construction, through a joint development management agreement.

The project is only Vanke’s second in the United States and its first in New York City, Yu Liang, president of Vanke, noted in a release. (The Chinese developer closed its first U.S. project in San Francisco with Tishman Speyer in 2013.)

“It’s not simply about our new building, but about the composition it creates together with one of the 20th century’s greatest. In contrast to Seagram’s dark bronze, our tower will have a pure white, undulating skin. Its proportions are almost impossibly slim and the views will be just incredible,” according to Foster + Partners.

“It’s rare to have the opportunity to create a tower of such elegant proportions, and rarer still to do so in such an architecturally rich section of Midtown Manhattan,” Aby Rosen, co-founder & principal of RFR, says. “The location of our site is extraordinary, and the demand for highest-end condominiums in Midtown has never been stronger.”

The current residential condo market in Manhattan is indeed a hot one, confirms the fourth-quarter 2013 survey of Manhattan co-op and condo sales by Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

The median sales price rose 14.3 percent on a year-over-year basis to a record $1.32 million. Compared to the prior year quarter, the number of sales surged 23.2 percent to 1,281, as inventory fell 9.5 percent to 1,930, the lowest level in more than 11 years.

The luxury end of the condo market was dominated by resales rather than new development, with the former accounting for about 90 percent of closings during the quarter.

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