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Meet One High Line: A New Edition to Chelsea’s Luxury Condo Market


Everyone knows that New York real estate does not come cheap. But have you heard about One High Line? It is one of the most expensive development acquisitions in New York City history, which is saying something in this city. But what made it so? Buckle up–we will walk you through the convoluted history of One High Line and its developers, HFZ Capital.

The Players: Who’s Who of One High Line

First, to understand what went down with One High Line, you need to understand the cast of characters at the center of the events. Here is the background information you need to know to make sense of everything.

Ziel Feldman

Ziel Feldman is the founder of HFZ Capital group, which came to prominence after the housing crash of ‘08 by building luxury developments. But before there was HFZ, there was Property Markets Group (PMG), a development firm Feldman founded alongside banker Kevin Maloney.

Throughout the ‘90s, PMG would buy up crumbling housing, flip it, then raise rents. In ‘94, PMG partnered with the future president and founder of Extell Development, Gary Barnett, to buy a neglected 1909 beaux-arts building on the Upper West Side–the Belnord. For $15 million, PMG bought the building, renovated it, and raised rents accordingly. This deal was largely funded by Beny Steinmetz.

By the early 2000s, Feldman and Maloney’s interests began to diverge. Maloney was eager to continue building in Florida, while Feldman, a Queens native, wanted to dig further into Manhattan. In 2005, Feldman left to start HFZ–which is a combination of his wife’s name, Helene, and his own, Feldman and Ziel. To start this new venture, he brought some of his loyal PMG employees along to HFZ, including Nir Meir.

Nir Meir

Like Feldman, Meir was extremely ambitious. Together, they planned to grow HFZ into one of the premier developers in the city. Originally from Israel, Meir came to New York after purportedly serving in the Israel Defence Forces. At the time of HFZ’s founding, he was still in his late ’20s. Though young, he seemed committed to his work and to make connections with the who’s who of NYC real estate.

According to Feldman, who spoke about this to Curbed, Meir was charismatic and had a knack for snagging important investors. He was able to secure funding that helped HFZ buy up a slew of low cost properties during the 2008 recession.

One of the investors heavily involved with HFZ’s portfolio was Israeli diamond dealer Beny Steinmetz.

The Investors

As secretive and controversial as he is wealthy, 66-year-old diamond and mining tycoon Beny Steinmetz was once one of Israel’s richest men. The owner of BSGR, he made his money off of mining rights in African countries including Guinea and Sierra Leone. At one point, he was worth an estimated $6 billion dollars, but is now valued at around $1 billion, largely due to legal issues.

Currently under investigation in several countries including the United States for corrupt business practices, BSGR has sold much of its mining rights and remains in legal peril. In 2018, BSGR entered into a voluntary receivership, and in 2021, Beny Steinmetz was convicted in a Geneva court of bribery and fraud. Much of this corruption came to light in 2014

Despite this controversy, Beny Steinmetz was one of the major investors in HFZ’s projects even after 2014. Although HFZ did not publicly acknowledge it, Steinmetz was deeply involved in HFZ’s dealings, according to Curbed. Meir was frequently in contact with Steinmetz, but the amount Meir shielded Feldman from knowing about day to day interactions with Steinmetz is up for debate. However, Feldman undoubtable knew that Steinmetz was a major source of funding for HFZ’s projects, including One High Line.

Steinmetz was not the only major foregin investor who was deeply involved with HFZ. Yoav Harlap, an Israeli car magnate, invested $20 million in the High Line project–money expected would be spent appropriately, but was ultimately misused by HFZ.

The Location: One High Line

Now that you know the cast of characters, it is time to set the scene. It’s 2015. Bloomberg-era rezoning has ushered in a wave of development and revitalization in the West Chelsea neighborhood, especially around the old highway tracks.

Repurposed Railroad: The Birth of the Highline

These tracks were originally constructed at street level in the mid-1800s by the New York Central Railroad. Running along 10th Ave., these trains delivered food to lower Manhattan, and caused many pedestrian deaths over the years. By the 1920s, the rising number of deaths caused the city’s Transportation Committee to remove the streetlevel tracks and rebuild them on elevated platforms.

By 1933, the elevated tracks, known as the West Side Elevated Line, began its operation. The line ran through factories, including the Nabisco factory that now houses Chelsea Market. Throughout the ’60s and ’80s, the trains were used less and less until all traffic eventually ceased.

Although there were long organizing efforts to repurpose the old High Line, progress stalled, and at times public sentiment seemed to lean towards demolishing the unused railway. But by the early 2000s, however, there was a rising tide of interest in revitalizing the High Line.

In 2004, under Michael Bloomberg, the West Chelsea Special District was established, and the city began converting the old rails into a public park. First portions of the High Line Park opened in 2009, and by 2014, even more parts of the High Line has been repurposed into a beautiful and unique greenspace.

Architecture Boom in West Chelsea

The High Line was in a great neighborhood, and was surrounded by underutilized properties ripe for development. Over the years it took to create the park, luxury developments were raised all around it, including distinctive buildings by renowned architects like Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Jean Nouvel. This boom in development raised the prices of the land around the High Line, including the plot at 76 11th Ave., the future home of One High Line.

In 2014, HFZ bought this lot for $870 million–an enormous price, but one HFZ hoped would be worth it. Even at the time, the price was intimidating. Feldman envisioned the development, which he called XI, to be a resort-like, luxury experience, with high-end amenities that could rival the most storied addresses in the city. The Real Deal reported that Feldman expected the total cost of the building to reach around $1.9 billion.

In order to make his vision a reality, Feldman hired architect Bjarke Ingels of the firm BIG, whose flashy design caused some unforeseen delays and expenses during construction, which began in 2016. Construction ceased in 2019 with the downfall of HFZ.

The Fall: Construction of the XI Stalls, Feldman and Meir Part Ways

Units in the unfinished XI went on sale in 2018, where the penthouse went for $34 million. But sales were not all going smoothly. The luxury development boom was beginning to strain. Many condo units throughout the city were empty, and HFZ was struggling to meet their financial obligations. They began to not pay contractors, and by the time to Covid-19 pandemic hit, HFZ was spiraling. Investors, eager for returns, began to ask for their money–money HFZ could not provide.

As their financial troubles mounted, HFZ began to move money in eyebrow-raising ways. While Feldman had started taking a more hands-off approach to the business, Nir Meir was in the thick of it. Investors (and Feldman) alleged that Meir was faking money transfers, balance sheets, and signatures, all to keep his lavish lifestyle and HFZ afloat. Feldman claims that when he discovered the depth of Meir’s dishonest dealings in 2020, they parted ways permanently.

The Lawsuits: Investors Seek Compensation

Mier was sued by investor Yaov Harlap (YH Lex Estates), who was awarded $18.5 million in damages in 2021. Harlap also sued Feldman and an appellate court ruled that he could collect his settlement from HFZ and Feldman in addition to Mier.

Feldman has lost much of his money, including money that was tied up in HFZ’s developments. He claimed in court that Meir was the one primarily responsible for HFZ’s downfall–that Meir stole millions of dollars and committed fraud. However, a court ruled that Feldman was also responsible, and could be held financially liable.

The Second Chance: Construction Resumes at One High Line

Now under new developers and going by a new name, the property once known as XI is expected to be finished by 2024. Now One High Line, the property was purchased by Steve Witkoff for $900 million in 2021–only $30 million more than HFZ originally paid for the lot.

The Building: What Buyers Can Expect from the New One High Line

When completed, One High Line will be made up of two interconnected towers–one 26 stories tall, the other 36 stories. The twisting towers will have wonderful views of the Hudson River, lower manhattan, and the High Line park.

The buildings will house 236 condominium units, as well as the Six Senses Hotel Resorts Spas, which will have 137 rooms. There will also be retail space and a pedestrian plaza with access to the High Line. Hopefully, now that the project is under new direction, the twisting saga of One High Line will ultimately have a happy ending. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on any more news surrounding this development, and other HFZ properties around the city.