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Park Fifth Announces New Money, But Is It Real?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, January 29, 2010, at 02:07PM
Park 5th Model Dave Bullock [Flickr]

This 14-foot tall model of Park Fifth was the centerpiece of the project's sales center in the Gas Company Tower.

One of Downtown's mega-projects seemingly rose from the dead yesterday, as developer David Houk told the Downtown News that his $1.3 billion plan to build two towers across the street from Pershing Square was on the verge of receiving new financing. The Park Fifth project would include both 76-story and 44-story towers, nearly 800 condos and a high-end hotel.

But is the project's new investor real? Real estate professionals that blogdowntown spoke to on Friday had mixed opinions on whether the leaked deal was legitimate and were skeptical of potential new investor Gabriel Hertzberg and his Triangle Investment Oil Company.

Hertzberg's quotes to the Downtown News aroused suspicion.

“We own oil in the Middle East and have the funding to get this project,” Hertzberg told the paper. “I will probably be the owner of the whole thing.”

He told the paper that he was currently transferring funds to U.S. accounts, and that the deal would be finalized in the next few weeks.

The oil company that Hertzberg runs was registered as a California LLC in January of last year. The address on record with the state points to a warehouse next to the Van Nuys airport, where either Hertzberg or a relative by the same name runs a company called Mobile Cardiac Imaging. The other contact address listed in state records is Hertzberg's home, located in the southern part of Beverly Hills.

Both the oil company and Hertzberg are almost non-existent online. The only mention of Triangle is on Petrofinder, a site that offers free profile listings. Neither Hertzberg nor the company show up in a search of Proquest's newspaper databases.

Even if Hertzberg does not have the money to fund the project himself, it is possible that he could be acting as a front for other investors. One source blogdowntown spoke to thought that unlikely, instead believing that Houk was trying to drum up interest in the parcel.

As for Houk, he declined to comment to blogdowntown on the potential deal, saying that it was "in the works," but "it's not real yet."

The project's last major news came in June of 2008, when it announced that it had completed entitlement and received a construction loan commitment from Beijing Construction Engineering Group. Just a few months later, though, news reports surfaced that major partner Namco Capital Group Inc. and its founder Ezri Namvar owed investors approximately $400 million. Namvar was accused of running a ponzi scheme as part of his investment business.

Even that wasn't the first time the project was dogged by funding questions. In November of 2007 the project denied reports that it had lost its main investor, and said that things remained on track.

While news of the project's restart would be welcomed in such a tough economic climate, Thursday's announcement serves to raise more questions than answers.

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Park Fifth

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