Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Year of the Sheep, Part 2: Greenland press release touting "high-end" 550 Vanderbilt condo building gets wide play

After several New York elected officials and a good number of media outlets signed on to Mayor Bill de Blasio's myopic framing of the 535 Carlton launch--an all-affordable rental building with units too expensive for most Brooklynites--as an affordable housing victory, now comes a second wave of lockstep behavior, in the Chinese media.

From Greenland press release;
English text is machine translation
That's because developer Forest City Ratner's new Shanghai government-owned partner/overseer, the Greenland Group, is a behemoth in China, and this is a very big deal for Greenland, establishing itself around the world.

Press release focuses on Chairman Zhang

Consider that this press release from Greenland was essentially repurposed in numerous Chinese language outlets, including here, here, here, here, here, and here.

As shown at right, the press release features photos of Greenland Chairman Zhang Yuliang at the podium and then shaking hands with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The press release does not mention 535 Carlton, which launched Monday, but does highlight 550 Vanderbilt, the condo building that was supposed to have a groundbreaking yesterday--I didn't get confirmation--and is already being marketed to Chinese buyers, without official sanction.

"High-end" 550 Vanderbilt

The key passage in the Greenland press release, according to the (crude) machine translation, is:
The start of the Pacific Park project being located in Brooklyn, New York, near the stadium and Barclays Brooklyn's largest shopping mall. Transport facilities, 12 subway lines, 16 bus, Long Island Railroad station, surrounded by Wall Street in just 10 minutes to Manhattan subway ride away. The total area of ​​about 64,500 square meters, total building area of ​​nearly 600,000 square meters, planning and construction of large-scale integrated communities. 
Project includes the construction of 14 buildings in 6067 and the sale of residential rental apartment units, commercial office and hotel. Community planning and construction of complete facilities, including New York City public high schools, health centers, elderly centers, eight acres of open parks, public art activity area, shopping centers, etc., which can be sold in the first high-end residential project named Vanderbilt Bildt Street, (550 Vanderbilt Ave.) 550, equipped with a private hall, library, children's play room, a cafeteria, meeting rooms, private dining packages, sports center, rooftop outdoor barbecue facilities.
From the English-language press: Greenland's big deal

The English-language press focused on the China market produced more varied coverage. China Daily offered Ground broken in NYC:
Chinese real estate developer Greenland USA and US partner Forest City Ratner Companies broke ground on Monday for a 298-unit affordable housing project in downtown Brooklyn.
The 18-story project for low, moderate- and middle-income households is expected to open in fall, 2016. Tenants will be selected through a city-administered lottery process.
"New York enjoys the reputation as the capital of the world, and its prosperity lightens the dreams of international investors, including Greenland Group," said Zhang Yuliang, chairman of the state-owned Greenland Group, parent company of Greenland USA.
As indicated, this is a very big deal for Greenland, which a year ago paid for a billboard announcing its presence in Times Square.

The China Daily article closed:
Norman Oder, a blogger and activist who has been opposing the Atlantic Yards project is also skeptical. He said the so-called "affordable" housing, though cheaper than market prices, might still be unaffordable for ordinary people.
Well, I'm clearly a critic of Atlantic Yards, but if I just "opposed" it I'd be a knee-jerk reporter. I don't think you need a critic of activist to do the math regarding affordable housing.

After all, Daily News City Hall Bureau Chief Jennifer Fermino--someone I've never had any contact with, btw--produced similar skepticism.

From the English-language press: less of a profit for Greenland?

AsiaOne Business, based in Singapore, offered China's property developer plans major project in NY:
Yan Yuejin, a researcher at E-house (China) Holding, was more cautious. He said the rents of the affordable housing means it will take time to recover the investment.
Greenland's strength is focused more on developing "landmark" commercial properties, and it will also take time for the company to understand local practice and nurture local capability, Yan said.
"The value of the project for Greenland might be in 'testing the waters'. It wants to better understand demand in the US market, so it may focus less on profitability," Yan said.
That's interesting. In other words, not unlike EB-5 investors who accept a lower interest rate because they want green cards most of all, Greenland is calculating the importance of establishing itself in New York and the United States.

Greenland's big plans

From the Wall Street Journal:
“We will focus on deepening our presence in existing markets,” Mr. Zhang said in an interview this week at New York City’s Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and where the company is developing a project. “It isn’t like we have a presence in 10 places now and will have to expand to 20. We’d increase our investment in cities where there is potential for growth, in the big cities. We will maintain a stable pace of increasing our real-estate investments abroad.”

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