Young Woo in Contract for 70 Pine, 72 Wall; Downtown’s Biggest ’09 Deal!

70pine Young Woo in Contract for 70 Pine, 72 Wall; Downtown’s Biggest 09 Deal! An accomplished yet relatively small-time local developer has, with the backing of the Korea-based Kumho Investment Bank, signed a contract to buy AIG’s two downtown skyscrapers for about $100 a square foot (a puny number that just one year ago would have elicited guffaws), according to an announcement released by AIG’s brokers at CB Richard Ellis on Tuesday afternoon.

Youngwoo & Associates, named for principal Young Woo, is in contract to buy 70 Pine Street and 72 Wall Street, a total of 1.4 million square feet of commercial space. At $100 a square foot, that puts the total sale price at about $140 million.

Mr. Woo, a Korean immigrant, is well connected to the Korean-American community, but has long harbored ambitions to be an even bigger player in the New York real estate market, according to industry sources.

“I’m not terribly surprised,” said one investment broker who’s worked with Mr. Woo in the past. “He’s been going after big deals for a while.”

Indeed, Youngwoo is bidding against the Durst Organization and Related Companies for the development rights to Pier 57, and is behind the remarkably extravagant residential project at 200 11th Avenue; that’s the one with the special elevator system that lifts an owner’s car—with the owner inside—from the street to a special garage right next to his apartment. 

“We are pleased to announce this important transaction and view it as a key stepping stone in our long-range plan to establish a major presence for Korean institutions in the U.S. property and capital markets,” said Greg Carney, a partner at Youngwoo, in a statement.

Or, as another investment specialist put it, “Korea has been a rising star in the east for some time… They are definitely heading our way more and more.”

The joint venture is currently considering its options for the buildings, but, contrary to the implications of a recent article in the New York Post, the venture is said to have no plans to tear down that wondrous Art Deco confection known as 70 Pine.

drubinstein@observer.com