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Sam Chang Unloads Times Square Portfolio for $450M

Sam Chang, who announced in 2019 that he was going to sell more than 20 NYC hotels and retire—reportedly so he can spend more time on his passion, which is pigeon racing—has offloaded another $450M in NYC assets located in the Times Square area.

Chang’s McSam Hotel Group sold a commercial condo at 150 West 48th Street to Houston-based Dauntless Capital Partners for $290M. Magna Hospitality Group, based in Rhode Island, paid $160M to buy two Hilton-branded hotels, also at 150 West 48th Street. 

The 38-story building at 150 W. 48th is home to three of Hilton’s brands, including Hampton Inn, Home 2 Suites and Motto Hotel, encompassing a total of more than 1,000 rooms.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Magna has been aggressively buying up struggling hotels in Manhattan. The company acquired a 310-room Embassy Suites at 60 West 37th Street from Ashford Hospitality Trust for $115M. Ashford had purchased the Embassy Suites for $195M in 2019.

Magna also purchased distressed loans backed by the 230-room Fairfield Inn & Suites at 325 West 33rd Street and a 224-room Courtyard by Marriott at 307 West 37th Street.

The Warwick, RI company previously bought the Chelsea hotel on West 28th Street from Chang for $147M. Magna also acquired the Garment District Hotel on West 36th Street, from Chang for $274M.

When he announced his retirement, Chang still had nearly a dozen projects in the works in NYC.

However, the city’s decision during the pandemic to enact a new zoning law that required new hotels or major hotel expansions to secure a special permit, was the deciding factor in Chang’s decision to start pulling the plug on his NYC hotel empire.

“That rezoning put me in my retirement,” Chang told the Wall Street Journal in 2019. Except, he still hasn’t retired: Chang opened a SpringHill Suites by Marriott on East 24th Street last year. 

So, you ask, is pigeon racing any faster?

NYC’s pigeon breeders raise hundreds of birds on Brooklyn rooftops. In pigeon racing, the birds are brought to a designated location, then released simultaneously. Apparently, pigeons have incredible homing abilities, so they all head back to the coop.

The birds have special leg bands that identify them and clock their times when they arrive home, calculating their average flying speeds electronically. The fastest pigeon wins.

Pigeon breeders train their birds to build up stamina, until the best of them can fly up to eight hours nonstop at up to 70 miles per hour. These birds are entered into races that begin in Pennsylvania or Ohio and end on the rooftops of NYC.

Then there are the pigeons sitting in cars with New Jersey license plates, homing in on their suburban coops a few inches at a time at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, trying to avoid souvenirs on their windshields from the warriors in the sky who are flying east to their Brooklyn nests.
Reprinted with permission from the Tue, 19 Sep 2023 05:03:26 EDT online edition of GlobeSt © 2023 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-256-2472 or reprints@alm.com.