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Deals & Dealmakers

Ingenious China venture wins Deal of the Year

CBRE’s Bill Shanahan Darcy Stacom and Paul Leibowitz locked up the REBNY Ingenious Deal award last week for helping to broker a joint venture between Forest City Ratner and China’s Greenland Holdings at Pacific Park, the former Atlantic Yards, in Brooklyn.

“We weren’t thinking about it at the time we were executing the deal, but afterwards we thought we’d be in the running,” Shanahan told Real Estate Weekly while discussing the deal that landed his team the Henry Hart Rice award.

REBNY’s 2014 Ingenious Deal of the Year Award winners (L-R): William Shanahan, CBRE; Darcy Stacom, CBRE; Howard Fiddle, CBRE; Brad Gerla, CBRE; David Carlos, Savills Studley; Ira Schuman, Savills Studley.
REBNY’s 2014 Ingenious Deal of the Year Award winners (L-R): William Shanahan, CBRE; Darcy Stacom, CBRE; Howard Fiddle, CBRE; Brad Gerla, CBRE; David Carlos, Savills Studley; Ira Schuman, Savills Studley.

Though Shanahan was no stranger to arranging joint ventures with Chinese investors, this particular case required a little extra attention and expertise. “50 percent of the stock was owned by the Chinese Government,” said Shanahan referring to Greenland, who required extra leg-work before officially buying in to the concept of a joint venture.

Unlike doing business with individual Chinese investors and entrepreneurs, this particular arrangement came complete with a healthy serving of red tape.

“We needed five approvals on their side. Two from the Shanghai — I’ll call it Ministry of Commerce — two from the region that Shanghai resides in and one from the Chinese Federal Government.”
While the idea of joining forces was perhaps a foreign concept to the Asian investors, the value of the project was something that superseded cultural barriers.

“Hong Kong is an island like Manhattan,” said Shanahan, who opted to draw parallels to Greenland’s home country when selling them on the deal. “Kowloon happens to be on the mainland, like Brooklyn.”
Like Brooklyn, Kowloon offers residents a distinct downtown district, prime living spaces, a waterfront, and proximity to a major metropolitan epicenter at prices that wield more value.

Bill Shanahan

Greenland liked the analogy, and joined the investment group which has allowed this “unique” project to get underway.

“There’s just nothing this large in the boroughs. It’s one of the largest affordable housing projects definitely in New York State and the city,” said Shanahan.

“Here you have 2,500 units of affordable housing in the project. It’s not in an area that needs gentrification,” he continued pointing out the project’s proximity to Boerum Hill. “You’re in an area people want to be in.”

While Shanahan concedes that they “would have gotten there with somebody,” he’s thrilled that Greenland ended up seizing the opportunity.

“The scale of the project is what gave a lot for the other investors pause. But Greenland is used to scale,” he told Real Estate Weekly. “The Greenland folks reacted pretty quickly.”

When finished, the mixed-use Pacific Park will consist of 17 high-rise buildings in Prospect Heights.
The deal, referred to as “East Meets West-Brooklyn Mirrors Kowloon” is Shanahan’s fourth Ingenious Deal of the Year award, while it is the third award for Darcy Stacom and first for Paul Leibowitz.

CBRE’s Howard Fiddle and Brad Gerla won the second place Robert T. Lawrence Award for “A ‘Two-State Solution’ to 11 Madison: Everyone Wins, “ a double whammy with Credit Suisse and Sony at 11 Madison Avenue.

Ira Schuman and David Carlos of Savills Studley were honored with the third place Edward S. Gordon Award for assembling a site for a new Congregation Habonim temple ion a deal they dubbed “Divine Intervention or Deal.”

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