[3/29/2017 — UPDATE: Anbang backs out of negotiations to redevelop 666 Fifth via The Real Deal]
Plans to convert the existing building at 666 Fifth Avenue, a long-idled development project owned by Kushner Companies and Vornado Realty Trust, might yet see the light of day as foreign investors indicate their interest in financing the tower.
Kushner Companies was led by son-in-law to President Donald Trump and former CEO Jared Kushner until mid-January when he relinquished his control over the company and formally divested his stake in 666 Fifth Avenue. Though some have questioned the significance of these measures to sever himself from the project, Kushner will purportedly no longer have a formal role as it moves forward and will recuse himself if any conflict-of-interest should arise.
Yet, Kushner’s precarious web of financial entanglements could potentially haunt him. Shortly before his departure from his family’s business, Kushner negotiated investment talks with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese company shrouded by opaque ownership and known associations with the Chinese state. In a report by 6sqft, sources say that Anbang has been involved in “advanced talks to provide as much as half of the $2.5 billion in equity for the planned redevelopment.” Though the company has denied it is a stakeholder in the 666 Fifth Avenue project, the deal seems to support its growing portfolio of real estate investments in New York City as they are also the owners of nearby Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The building will require a substantial redesign of the existing structural core to accommodate an additional 40 stories, a task to be resolved by London-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) which recently circulated a rendering of the ambitious 1,400-foot-tall tower. ZHA has been signed up for the project since 2015 and later this year will wrap construction on its first project in New York City, a residential building adjacent to the High Line. If all goes as intended, demolition will begin in 2019 with a desired completion by 2025.