Fosun to spiff up NY office plaza

Updated: 2015-03-13 13:00

By Jack Freifelder in New York(China Daily USA)

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 Fosun to spiff up NY office plaza

A rendering of an aerial view of the new plaza at 28 Liberty. Provided to China Daily

It's modern, it's new, and it's part of the China-based Fosun Group's plans to help revitalize New York City's Financial District.

It's the proposed redesign for 28 Liberty, the former One Chase Manhattan Plaza that Fosun renamed and acquired for $725 million in 2013. The company is planning to spend between $100 and $200 million to redesign and renovate more than 2 million square feet of space shared between the building and adjacent plaza.

Fosun has given its renovation plan to New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission, and was scheduled to give the public a look at the redesign at a local community board meeting on Thursday evening

The redesign has been in the works for some time, according to Erik Horvat, managing director of Fosun Property Holdings.

"When Fosun first began exploring the purchase of One Chase Manhattan Plaza, it recognized the extraordinary opportunity the building offered, both in the potential retail development and the reactivation of the plaza," Horvat wrote in an e-mail to China Daily.

Efforts to restore the plaza "will revitalize the building in numerous different ways", positioning it as a central destination and amenity for the neighborhood," Horvat said.

Renovations call for the addition of nearly 200,000 square feet of retail space below the plaza and a revamp of the open air space, which includes more seating and the restoration of the Noguchi Sunken Garden, a subterranean water garden located in the center of the plaza.

Glass windowpanes and new street-level storefronts will replace the black granite that lines the walls below the plaza along Liberty, Nassau, Pine and William streets. Fosun also plans to reclaim more than 100,000 square feet for shops on floors below ground level.

"Additional retail offerings are greatly desired in Lower Manhattan, which has evolved in the past decades into a thriving commercial and residential district," Horvat wrote. "The new design for retail opens up the street level space to pedestrian traffic and to the neighborhood."

Bo Wei, Fosun International's chief US representative, said in a statement: "The retail plan will provide a much-needed amenity to Lower Manhattan, offering 200,000 square feet of retail space to accommodate a residential community that has expanded dramatically since 28 Liberty was constructed."

The building was constructed in the early 1960s by design firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the same firm that is set to handle the redesign project.

Horvat said in an interview this week with the Wall Street Journal that when the building was constructed, Lower Manhattan was home to "only 5,000 residents".

Lower Manhattan has changed," Horvat told the newspaper. "It's a different place."

The residential population in the area has surged to more than 60,000, according to the Alliance for Downtown New York, a business advocacy group for the area.

Fosun Group, founded in 1992, is an industrial conglomerate with investments in insurance, industrial operations, pharmaceuticals and asset management.