Carlyle JV unloads NY condos

A luxury condo conversion in Midtown Manhattan with interior touches by fashion designer Peter Som has been sold to the hotel company Hyatt amid a softening condo market.

The Carlyle Group and Belfonti Capital Patners will sell a planned couture condo conversion at 485 Fifth Avenue to Global Hyatt, confirming suspicions that the Midtown Manhattan building would end up as a hotel. Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman declined to discuss the financial terms of the deal.

The joint venture had commissioned fashion designer Peter Som to custom design the interior touches of the planned 104 luxury units. The building, which once housed the headquarters of Tommy Hilfiger’s fashion design firm, overlooks Bryant Park, home to many of the fashion industry’s runway shows during New York City Fashion Week. Only about half of the units have been sold so far, according to a statement from Carlyle and Belfonti. Nevertheless, the firms said that sales exceeded their targets.

Ullman said that with nearly half the units sold and only one-third of the units complete, the development was ahead of the firm’s “internal schedule,” and disputed news reports that sales were slow and the firms gave deposits back to buyers. He also said a softening condo market did not contribute to the decision to sell 485 Fifth to Hyatt.

The marketing campaign for the building, where two-bedrooms would cost a reported $2.2 million, included specially designed coffee table books featuring prominent runway models and parties organized by the fashion industry’s elite event planner to help sell the apartments.

“We’re trying everything we can to sell units, pushing every lever we have,” Michael Belfonti told The New York Times in February.

Luxury residences that trumpet their ties to the fashion world are one of many gimmicks developers have been using to set their buildings apart in New York City’s crowded luxury condo market.

In Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill neighborhood , a luxury development building sporting a basketball court touts its ties to basketball star and former New York Knick John Starks, while another mid-town Manhattan building highlighted its ties to designer Philippe Starck.

New York City-based Belfonti Capital Partners bills itself as venture capital firm focused on real estate opportunities of more than $300 million both in the US and internationally.

The Carlyle Group is currently raising its fifth US-focused private equity real estate fund with a target of $1.5 billion.