Boris Kuzinez takes the Fifth The man who brought amenity-rich luxe apartment living to Moscow is now planning a near-supertall condo on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. But can he actually build it?
From left: Saint Basil s Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow, Boris Kuzinez and the Flatiron Building (Credit: Getty Images)
Ostozhenka Street in downtown Moscow housed the headquarters of the Soviet secret police, inspired Mikhail Bulgakov’s epic The Master and Margarita and was home to the Institute of Red Professors, a factory of bolshevik academe. But less than a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, Ostozhenka would begin its transition into Xanadu for oligarchs, Russia’s answer to Billionaires’ Row.
Boris Kuzinez was a big part of that. Projects like Copper House and Molochny Lane put the Ostozhenka neighborhood, and Kuzinez, on the world s opulence map. Now, the Latvian-born Israeli national who oversaw the transformation of “The Golden Mile” wants to build what would be Manhattan’s tallest tower between Midtown and Downtown.
Kuzinez spent over $100 million putting together an assemblage at 260-264 Fifth Avenue in NoMad. His new firm, Five Points Development, is planning a 928-foot-tall condominium with just 39 apartments, property records show – meaning units would average over 3,500 square feet a piece – mansions in the sky by New York standards.
But the developer will have to reckon with a market somewhat hostile to the kind of oligarch-friendly product he’s planning: sales velocity for ultra-luxury condos is far lower than it was when he assembled the site, and competitors coming to market are pivoting to more affordable product. Moreover, he is yet to secure a construction loan and observers question whether he will get this project over the line.
Kuzinez declined to comment for this story.
In 2006, Rose Group, then a Kuzinez-led development firm known as RGI International, readied an IPO on London’s junior market exchange index. An offering memo touted Kuzinez as “one of the f阿爱上海同城 irst developers to construct modern, Western-style buildings in Moscow” and highlighted his pedigree by noting his “working relationships with Moscow’s municipal and federal officials.” Morgan Stanley bought a 13-percent stake in RGI, and Kuzinez told the New York Times that year that his clients included the cream of Moscow’s monied crop, “mostly businessmen, bankers, in oil and metals.”
“It’s hard for oligarchs to live in a regular building,” he said.
He often worked with the acclaimed Russian architect Yuri Girgoryan and built distinctively mod shopping centers and office buildings in addition to luxury apartments. In 2007, the firm raised approximately $32 million on the Israeli bond market, now a go-to destination for American developers.
But the global financial crisis and downturn in housing markets hit RGI hard. Two years after the IPO, international real estate firm DTZ (now part of Cushman Wakefield) marked down the value of RGI’s portfoli[……]