Ontario developer risks $15 billion taking the lead in monumental Manhattan transformation

Ontario developer risks $15 billion taking the lead in monumental Manhattan transformation

The Manhattan site where an Ontario developer is proposing to build 5,000 new apartments (Image: Roblawol) 

Manhattan Island was long thought to be fully built out, but apparently Canada’s largest real estate developer aims to conjure an entire neighbourhood on top of a 26-acre rail yard nonetheless. Oxford Properties—the real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System—has an ambitious vision of 5,000 new apartments, but it will first need to construct a $1.5 billion platform above the Hudson train yards in the island’s west end. It’s a Herculean task: New York City hasn’t seen such a transformation in over 100 years, when a similar platform was erected over Park Avenue and Grand Central Station. Oxford only took charge of the $15 billion project after some of the biggest names in U.S. real estate and finance pulled out, including Goldman Sachs and Tishman Speyer. The recession has bruised the American real estate sector to the degree that many companies can’t stomach the risk involved—especially since thousands of layoffs have left plenty of free office space in New York. The modest Canadians, however, still have the cash and cojones for such ventures. Construction starts next year, and hopefully the gamble pays off; the fund that sustains hundreds of thousands of Canadian pensions depends on Oxford’s success. Read the entire story [The Globe and Mail] »