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Macklowe Proceeding With ‘Monumental’ Manhattan Development

Harry Macklowe, the New York real estate developer, said he is moving ahead with plans for building at the site of the former Drake Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

“I’m pleased to tell you we’re moving forward on a piece of land that we own free and clear,” Macklowe said today at a conference sponsored by Massey Knakal Realty Services. The development, planned for the site at Park and East 56th Street, “will be a capstone. It will be a monumental building and will be as much of an icon as the Apple cube,” in front of the General Motors Building, he said.

Macklowe was the owner of the GM tower in midtown Manhattan when he conceived and built the “cube,” a glass entryway to an underground showroom that’s become one of Apple Inc.’s most successful stores and a tourist attraction. He had to sell the skyscraper in 2008 after failing to refinance seven other towers he bought the year before from Equity Office Properties Trust using almost all short-term debt.

Macklowe, who rarely speaks in public, described his loss of the towers as “mishegoss,” a Yiddish word meaning “craziness.” Still, he’s proud of paying his creditors and that “nobody sued me,” he said.

“I made a very, very bad bet in 2007,” Macklowe said. “But I’m making new investments, I’m doing new deals and I’m very pleased to be an active participant in our real estate community.”

Macklowe is working with Los Angeles-based CIM Group, which bought the Drake site. His firm has filed plans with the city to erect a building there. Neither he nor CIM has disclosed what kind of development they’re planning. The developers have been trying to buy small buildings nearby to increase the site’s frontage on 57th Street, a major shopping thoroughfare.

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