MoMA Skyscraper Set to Rise with $85 Million Air Rights Purchase

Courtesy Hines.

Having sealed the deal on air rights, purchased for $85.3 million, the developer of the Jean Nouvel-designed condo tower at 53W53, also known as the MoMA Tower or Tower Verre, is ready to break ground.

Hines, the Houston-based developer, recently picked up 240,000 square feet of development rights from its neighbors, the Museum of Modern Art and the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, for the 82-story, 140-unit condo tower, according to the Real Deal. The deal with MoMA was for 31,389 square feet of development rights, at roughly $453 per square foot (for a total of around $14 million), while the developer picked up 210,000 square feet at roughly $340 per square foot (about $71 million). The deal will give MoMA another 36,000 square feet of exhibition space spread out over three new floors as it moves forward with its controversial expansion plan (see “MoMA Moves Forward with Folk Art Museum Demolition“).

In 2007, Hines purchased the site and had plans to build the tallest residential tower in the city. But the project was stymied by the financial crisis, and its height was sheared by some 200 feet in the process of getting the requisite approvals from City Council.

About a year ago, Hines, along with development partner Goldman Sachs, got over $1 billion in financing from a group of Asian banks along with the Kwee family (of the firm Pontiac Land), the fifth wealthiest family in Singapore, which builds upscale condos and owns five-star hotels. The infusion of funding rehabilitated the stalled project. Now it seems it’s finally happening.

Construction is expected to begin shortly and people are expected to start moving in in 2018.

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