$430 Million Purchase Clears Way for First New Times Square Mixed-Use Development in a Quarter Century

Oct 17th, 2012

36-Story Project will Feature the Largest LED Screen in Times Square, a Multi-Story Destination Retail Complex, and a 500-Room Hotel Tower

New York, NY, October 16, 2012 – Maefield Development, Infinity Urban Century, The Witkoff Group and New Valley, an investment unit of Vector Group LTD (NYSE: VGR), announced today that they have completed the $430 million acquisition of their Times Square Gateway Center development site.  The purchase clears the way for construction of a 340,000 square-foot, 36-story, multi-use development that will anchor the northern end of Times Square, with a new retail experience, a hotel tower, and the nation’s largest single LED screen.

The iconic Times Square Gateway Center development, located at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, will dramatically transform a prime corner of Manhattan’s Times Square. When fully complete in three years, the $800 million project will feature 130,000 square feet of best-in-class multi-story retail space facing the Square, a 24,000 square-foot state-of-the-art LED sign  wrapping around its façade on 100 feet of height, a dramatic rooftop and entertainment venue overlooking the Square, and a world-class 500-room hotel tower.  The podium building will deliver retail space with unparalleled technology infrastructure, large floor plates, and wide open unobstructed areas to serve the hundreds of millions of consumers who come through America’s number one tourist destination.

“The Times Square Gateway Center will greatly enhance the North end of Times Square”, says Ike S. Franco, Co-Managing Partner of Infinity Urban. “With the combined strength of Maefield Development, New Valley, and The Witkoff Group, this project has the potential to become one of the most innovative New York City developments in decades and to further cement the image of Times Square as the most vibrant global retail and entertainment district”.

Times Square’s renaissance has been remarkable over the last 15 years. It has regained its dominance as the most highly visited urban corridor in the world, offering global retailers and brands unparalleled foot traffic and visibility. Today, retail, lodging and entertainment together generate over $5 billion in sales annually in the Square. In April of this year, the Bloomberg administration announced a $50 million overhaul of Times Square’s streetscape to include new pedestrian areas, new sidewalks, granite benches, and lighting fixtures which are expected to give the venerated urban square a more modern feel and a fresh new look.

Maefield Development and Infinity Urban Century secured exclusive control of the site in January 2012, after multi-year negotiations between Maefield and the various interest holders. The assemblage of all the purchase rights needed to create a free and clear developable site of this scale required securing purchase agreements forthe fee simple interest in the land from the owners of the 701 Seventh Avenue property, irrevocable lease buyout agreements from the long term retail tenants that occupied the ground floor, and repurchase agreements from the existing façade signage license holders, all of which came together during the first half of this year.

An existing eleven-story turn-of-the-century office building currently on the site will be partially demolished to make way for the project’sretail and signage complex, expected to be operational within two years.  The joint venture will spend $170 million to develop the retail complex and another $200 million for the hotel tower.  Starwood Capital is providing $475 million in combined acquisition and construction financing for the development, $375 million of which was funded at closing.

This transformational development is a testament to New York City’s resilience and staying power in the midst of a slow national economic recovery.  NYC’s intellectual energy and economic vibrancy continues to inspire entrepreneurial risk takers to take large bets with the potential to generate thousands of new jobs for the City.

About Maefield Development
Maefield Development is a privately owned real estate company, led by visionary CEO Mark Siffin.  It has been headquartered in Indiana since 1991, and has had a long history developing iconic projects in major US cities.  It focuses on acquiring and developing undervalued and underutilized properties, and it is known for many award-winning developments throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Kansas City among others.  Over the last 20 years, the company has successfully acquired, entitled, and developed or sold in excess of five million square feet of retail and office space and 4,600 single-family and multi-family residences, including urban ground-up high-rise developments as well as master planned residential communities and shopping centers.

About Infinity Urban Century
Infinity Urban Century is the urban property investment unit of the Infinity Group, a New York-based privately-held investment holding company, and is led by partners Ike S. Franco, Steven J. Kassin and Etienne Locoh. Infinity’s owned portfolio comprises approximately 50 commercial properties and development projects in 13 states. Through its affiliates and portfolio companies Infinity oversees in excess of 35 million square feet. The Company’s principals have led over $2.5 billion of real estate related investments, representing over 80 acquisitions, developments, and corporate recapitalizations. The firm’s roots managing and repositioning under-valued consumer brands gives it a unique approach to the reinvention of urban retail and mixed use assets.

About the Witkoff Group
The Witkoff Group is a fully integrated real estate investment firm that owns a diverse portfolio of commercial real estate assets in the US. Founded by real estate investor Steve Witkoff, the firm specializes in acquiring undervalued properties in key central business district locations.  The Witkoff Group joined forces with New Valley, LLC, the real estate investment subsidiary of Vector Group Ltd. The company owns a 50% ownership interest in Douglas Elliman Realty and is seeking to acquire additional operating companies. It also holds investments in several significant real estate projects in California and New York.