On March 29, AABANY’s Real Estate Committee and Asia Practice Committee co-sponsored with East West Bank a program on Global Real Estate Development, held at Mudan Banquet Hall at Queens Crossing in downtown Flushing.
Margaret Ling, Co-Chair of both the Real Estate Committee and Asia Practice Committee, moderated the panel discussion. Derrick Do, First Vice President and Commercial Real Estate Director at East West Bank, kicked things off by giving background on the commercial real estate market and Chinese investments in that area. Next, Alex Hao, Partner at Jun He law firm and Co-Chair of the Asia Practice Committee, provided more detail on Chinese investments in the United States, particularly in real estate. Alex noted that in the last 12 to 24 months, for the first time, outbound investments exceeded inbound investments in China. He shared that in his corporate transactional practice, about half his time is spent on real estate deals for Chinese clients.
The discussion closed out with Michael Meyer, President of F&T Group, who described the challenges of real estate development in downtown Flushing by recounting the up-and-downs of building Flushing Commons, a project that first began with a bid in response to a New York City RFP in 2004, when Bloomberg was Mayor. Flushing Commons is a joint venture with the Rockefeller Group and is also a public-private partnership in which New York City awarded development rights in exchange for various public benefits, such as public parking and outdoor space open to everyone. Michael noted that public-private partnerships can be highly political and that development is very risky – investors had some $60 million riding on this project. His main takeaway from the numerous swings of Flushing Commons over the past dozen years is that developers have to be open to the risks of public-private partnerships and have sufficient underwriting to weather them.
F&T Group has numerous developments in New York and is currently developing the Nanjing World Trade Center in China. F&T Group is also the developer that built Queens Crossing, where Mudan Banquet Hall is located.
A lively Q&A took place after the panel discussion, which was immediately followed by dinner in the adjoining room, at which the attendees got to eat some delicious Chinese food and continue to talk and network until the conclusion of the evening. Attorneys in attendance picked up 1 CLE credit in Areas of Professional Practice.
Thanks to East West Bank for co-sponsoring the event and to the organizers and speakers for an engaging and informative program.