Developer of Planned NYC Mosque Sees Further Luxury-Condo Growth

  • `There's still a lot of momentum' for units, El-Gamal says
  • Islamic center replaced last year with residential tower

The developer who wanted to build a mosque near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, later replaced with plans for a 70-story condominium tower, said the New York luxury residential market still has room to grow despite signs of overbuilding.

“There’s still a lot of momentum and a lot of growth and opportunity in New York,” Sharif El-Gamal, chairman and chief executive officer of New York-based Soho Properties, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Toronto. “If you look at the statistics of ’06 and ’07, we’re nowhere near the peak of product that we had. We’re nowhere near the specific milestones that we had when we hit the peak.”

Sharif El-Gamal

Photographer: Frank Franklin II-Pool/Getty Images

El-Gamal said that in a few weeks he will announce details on construction financing for his 667-foot (203-meter) glass condo building, where the average price will be at least $3,000 a square foot. Permits and approvals are in place, he said. El-Gamal in 2011 shelved plans for a 15-story Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks north of where the World Trade Center stood before the 2001 terrorist attacks, and last year announced the luxury-condo project.

Manhattan’s high-end development boom, marked by record-setting price tags for extra-large and luxurious apartments, is showing signs of a slowdown as inventory swells and interest from ultra-wealthy buyers cools amid so much competition.

El-Gamal said demand remains for units like those he’s building.

“Global investors are realizing the importance of New York as a safe haven -- as a place where they could secure their wealth and generational wealth as opposed to putting the money in Swiss bank accounts,” he said.

El-Gamal said he still plans to build a three-story Islamic museum and prayer space, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, adjacent to the condo tower. More details will be announced after the residential project is well under way, he said.

“Let’s not use the word luxury, since it’s become a little bit of a synonym with discontent in the marketplace,” he said, referring to the condo building. “It’s a unique opportunity for investors.”

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