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Macklowe, Harry


MACKLOWE, HARRY (1938– ), U.S. real-estate developer. One of New York's best-known builders, Macklowe, the son of a garment executive from Westchester, dropped out of the University of Alabama, New York University, and the School of Visual Arts before throwing himself into the realestate business in the 1960s. He moved quickly from broker to builder, developing a keen interest in architecture and modern art that were reflected in his sleek modernistic buildings and starkly white minimalist offices. Although he had been a prolific builder, Macklowe became well known in 1985 when his company tore down two single-room occupancy hotels in midtown Manhattan during the night without turning off the gas or obtaining permits. He was not criminally charged, but he paid New York City $2 million to settle a civil lawsuit, and one of his executives pled guilty to criminal misdemeanor charges. Years later he built the Macklowe Hotel on the site. But Macklowe, like many New York developers, lost a string of buildings, including the hotel, to lenders during the recession in the mid-1990s. When the New York real-estate market began heating up again in 1996, Macklowe found new financial partners and resurfaced. He converted a loft building into a luxury apartment house. He bought a tired-looking office building on Madison Avenue in 1996 for $45 million, a price that even his banker thought was too high. Macklowe renovated the building, installed more windows in the offices, and expanded the retail space on a valuable stretch of the avenue. It looked like a huge success until a section of the brick façade crashed to the street, closing traffic on Madison Avenue for weeks. In 2003 Macklowe bought the 50-story General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue in New York for $1.4 billion, then the most ever paid for a skyscraper in the United States.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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