While this will be Xinyuan's first start-to-finish housing development in the US, the 15-year-old company has been active on the residential market with other deals. During the recently ended third quarter, it also acquired 15 finished luxury condo units in Irvine, California, for $10 million. In the second quarter, Xinyuan closed on a $7.4 million purchase in foreclosure of 325 finished lots and 185 acres of undeveloped land at various sites near Reno, in northern Nevada.
Deals in the US and other countries are part of a strategy for Chinese investors - individuals and developers - to expand portfolios despite limitations in China on ownership of multiple properties in some cities, in order to keep housing affordable for residents.
Domestically, Xinyuan describes its focus as high growth in strategic "Tier 2" Chinese cities - those with highly developed urban areas and economic and population growth rates above the national average. It has built some 31 million square feet (2.9 million square meters) of housing in Chengdu, Hefei, Jinan, Kunshan, Suzhou, Xuzhou and Zhengzhou.
Xinyuan reported third-quarter net income of $31.9 million, or 44 cents per American depositary share, up from $31.2 million, or 42 cents per ADS, in the third quarter of 2011. Revenue was $226.1 million, a 6 percent increase from the same period a year earlier.
The company bought more than 1.15 million of its ADSs on the open market at a cost of $3.2 million, through a $20 million share-buyback program announced in this year's second quarter.
Amid current ownership restrictions in China, "the US will likely remain comparatively attractive in 2013 and draw more Chinese investment, from State firms, from private real estate developers, and from individuals," said Derek Scissors, a senior research fellow who specializes in Asia at the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank in Washington.
"US real estate has been profitable since late 2009 and should remain profitable in 2013," he said.
Zhang, the CEO, said the project in the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood on Brooklyn's waterfront, "will offer a quality residential condominium development to more than 200 New York families, as well as allow us to capture a large demand from China for quality residential product in the United States".
The site is considered "shovel-ready", having had $8 million invested for permits and other clearances by its previous owner, from whom New York real estate investor Richard Kalikow took over the property through foreclosure earlier this year.