Vanke eyes US market

Updated: 2015-07-15 11:20

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

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Some companies may still have their doubts about the US recovery, but Vanke Holdings, the largest real estate developer in China, for one, is still bullish on the US market, according to Lee Kaiyan, managing director of Vanke Holdings USA.

Lee said there are plenty of places in the US where Chinese investors can put their capital.

Since beginning operations in the US at the end of 2012, Vanke has announced two major projects - two luxury condos in San Francisco and a 61-story condo and hotel tower in New York, which broke ground in 2014.

Construction on the Lumina project in San Francisco has finished and the interior is nearly complete. Its first batch of occupants moved in last month and the next group is expected later this year.

In New York, construction of the 610 Lexington Avenue project is expected to be completed by year's end, weather permitting and occupancy is expected in early 2017.

In April, Vanke paid $125 million for a controlling stake in a 220,000-square-foot Bush Tower at Bryant Park, where the New York team will eventually move.

"From the macro condition level, the economy is still growing very strongly. Unemployment rate is about 5.3-5.5 percent, it's very healthy. Obviously, there are some concerns about whether there's under-employment, but in general I think it's a lot healthier than other developed economies," he said.

Vanke eyes US market

Lee said the US also has some of the most mature real estate products, providing attractive design opportunities for development.

When Vanke first began investing in the market, there was very little Chinese capital in the US real estate sector, but China's direct investment has grown in the last few years, according to figures from the Rhodium Group.

As one of the early Chinese players in the US, Vanke is hoping to leverage its expertise in the Chinese market to help bring US and Chinese partners together, Lee said.

"Right now, there's a lot of Chinese capital coming into the US market. But not all capital comes with the same quality: some of it is more sophisticated, some of it requires a lot of hand-holding, and inevitably some will be more successful than others," he said.

"Because of our expertise locally in the US market, and also because of our connection in the Chinese market, we're hoping to be a bridge to at least partner up with some of the companies coming out from China who are interested in expanding their investments here in the US," he added.

In terms of further expansion in the US, while the developer is confident in the growth opportunity in the US, it is also taking a very "prudent approach" to entering new markets within the US, Lee said.