A government clampdown on outbound investment has stifled many of China’s biggest buyers of overseas real estate, but Greenland Holdings is bucking the trend by going nearly all-in on its joint venture to develop part of a $5 billion New York City mega-project.
Greenland USA, a subsidiary of the state-owned property firm, and US partner Forest City Realty Trust announced they are restructuring their joint venture that is developing Pacific Park Brooklyn, a 22-acre housing and recreational complex that is one of the largest redevelopment efforts in New York history. Through the agreement, Greenland USA will boost its stake in the enterprise from 70 to 95 percent, while Forest City’s interest will shrink from 30 to five percent.
Reports indicate that the restructuring will likely bring a fresh burst of capital to the troubled, long-delayed project. The deal represents the first significant ramping-up of Greenland’s overseas commitments since October 2016, when a unit of the Shanghai-based developer bought a residential site in Toronto.
Separately, Forest City New York CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin is reported to be leaving the NYSE-listed real estate firm to launch a new venture.
Greenland Shifts Focus to Under-Construction Projects in NY, CA
“This restructuring allows Greenland to meet all of the goals it set forth when we entered the New York market and deliver a world class project that will make all of Brooklyn proud,” commented Hu Gang, President and CEO of Greenland USA in the statement.
The joint venture partners will continue to work together on delivering the project, with Greenland USA taking primary responsibility for the remaining development work. The finished complex is expected to provide 6,430 units of housing, including 2,250 affordable homes, along with other office, retail and community space.
Through the move, Greenland continues to shift its US focus to projects already under construction, after reportedly ditching two West Coast deals without having put a shovel in the ground.
Last September, a Greenland-led consortium was reported to be walking away from the Landing at Oyster Point, a 42-acre waterfront office and life sciences project in South San Francisco, California. The mainland joint venture, which also includes Ping An Trust, Agile Group Holding, and Poly Sino Capital, had acquired the site from local developers Shorenstein Properties and SKS Partners for a reported $171 million in August 2016.
Then in November, Greenland reportedly withdrew from talks for a 1.9 million square foot, mixed-use project in North Hollywood, California, leaving its Dallas-based partner Trammell Crow to move ahead on plans for the redevelopment independently.
Despite these site stumbles, Greenland is currently in the process of developing the $1 billion Metropolis condo and hotel mega-project in downtown Los Angeles, on which it broke ground in 2014.
Troubled Brooklyn Development May Get a Boost
Greenland USA made a splash in October 2013 by agreeing to take a 70 percent stake in the project at Pacific Park, then called Atlantic Yards, as part of a $19 billion overseas investment binge by the Shanghai government-owned firm. The company paid a reported $200 million for the stake, in a deal which closed the following year.
First announced in 2003, the development at the intersection of Brooklyn’s Atlantic and Flatbush avenues has faced a series of headaches over the years. In November 2016, Forest City Realty Trust announced that construction of the remaining buildings would be delayed amid a weakening residential market, potentially resulting in a $1 billion write-down on the total value of the project. The news came six months after Greenland and Forest City were reported to be shopping a “very significant” equity stake in the development.
Further strains appeared in June of last year when the partners reportedly sent out conflicting messages about the project’s timetable, with Hu revealing that the venture would likely start construction on one or two buildings by the end of the year, while the CEO of Forest City Realty Trust separately said the company had no immediate plans for further construction.
Questions have arisen as to whether Greenland USA can build out the remaining affordable housing units by the 2025 deadline agreed with city and state authorities. Greenland did not respond immediately to a request for comment by Mingtiandi.