It may just be that the long-in-the-works conversion of the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel will move forward, but first a judge will have to intervene. Developer Steven Witkoff has joined forces with the U.S. Justice Department to have Jho Low, a businessman named in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MBD) scandal, removed from his stake in the Park Lane hotel, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Currently, Low has a 55 percent stake in the hotel, and the Justice Department argued, even at the time of the 1MDB revelations last summer that the stake was most likely acquired from funds siphoned through this scam—money that was actually meant to benefit the people of Malaysia.
Now the Justice Department and Witkoff are asking a federal court to approve the plan to sell off Low’s stakes in the Park Lane Hotel—his largest assets in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Justice Department says that the money from the sale of the assets will go back to the Malaysian people, and that the approval will allow Witkoff and a group of investors to prevent the hotel from going into foreclosure. The group will subsequently move forward with their plans to convert the hotel into a 1,200-foot condo building, making it one of the tallest buildings in the city.
Just over a year ago, it seemed like the conversion plans had been called off with Witkoff saying that the market was saturated with luxury condos. But with a new infusion of funds, his plans changed just four months later to move ahead with the redevelopment. Now, it’s up to the courts to decide if the Park Lane hotel can be saved. Simultaneously, there’s also a campaign afoot to landmark the building, even though the city rejected a previous proposal.