Developer in talks to help fill Sky View space: Source

Onex, equity partner of Muss Development, has hired real estate developer Related Cos. to help bring retailers and residents to Sky View Parc. By Christina Santucci
By Connor Adams Sheets

Joshua Muss, CEO of Muss Development, admitted in May 2008 that high construction prices and the volatility of the city’s real estate market meant he was taking a calculated risk by pursuing his plan to build Sky View Parc, a $1 billion mixed-use project at the west end of downtown Flushing.

But the developer had seen that gamble begin to pay off earlier that spring. In March 2008, his company sold 40 Sky View Parc apartments within 10 days of its sales office opening.

Now, however, it appears trouble has arrived, as a source with direct knowledge of recent developments at the project attested.

Despite the fact that about 75 percent of the project’s 800,000 square feet of commercial space has been rented out, the Forest Hills company’s equity partner, Toronto private equity investing group Onex, is in talks with Related Cos., a renowned real estate developer, according to the source, who works for Related.

Onex initiated the conversations with Related in order to jump-start the process, which has been sluggish thus far, of renting the remaining space and building out and opening stores, the source said, as Muss began selling residential slots in March 2008 and only two major retailers have moved in so far.

“What we’re in talks with Onex on is to be involved in retail leasing, residential leasing and sales and marketing,” the Related source said.

Related has a proven track record as one of the most effective real estate developers in the city. Its flagship project was the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan and the company has already directed a number of specialists to look into the project, despite the fact that a deal with Onex has not yet been finalized, the New York Post reported.

“It’s just an expertise that we have and relationships with retailers,” the source said. “We have a specialty with mixed-use development.”

The source said Related is confident Sky View Parc will be a successful project.

Sky View Parc, on a 14-acre plot bounded by College Point Boulevard, the Van Wyck Expressway, Roosevelt Avenue and the Long Island Rail Road tracks, is commonly viewed as the largest mixed-use project currently under construction in the city, according to the Post, at 3.3 million square feet. The first apartments were scheduled to be occupied by last summer, but none of the residential buildings have wrapped construction, according to the Post, though 40 percent of apartments in three of six condo towers planned to be built above the retail space have been sold.

In recent weeks, the first two massive stores have opened at the site: BJ’s Wholesale Club and Best Buy.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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