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The Dazzling, Treacherous World of New York City Real Estate ‹ Literary Hub

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New York City has always attracted the most ambitious, creative and megalomaniacs in the world. Some people go to the psychiatric emergency room in Bellevue. Others build skyscrapers.

That’s why the book about the city’s most famous individual buildings (at least my favorite book) isn’t a dull “real estate” book. The most memorable New York City real estate book also describes crazy, eccentric, larger-than-real characters that the city has a fascinating habit. The building of the property in question is simply an ember that ignites their grand ambitions. And breaking down the story, the quest to win, build, or buy these specific prizes is typical of the same kind of ambition, ego, arrogance, failure, redemption, and many other great stories. Consists of a typical human drama. (Divorce, physical change, lots of yelling and good luck, plus wins and losses).

My book, New Kings in New YorkIs about some of these bigger personalities. Stebros, who owns the Miami Dolphins and built the Time Warner Center and Hudson Yards. Arthur and Will Lee Seckendorf, a descendant of the dynasty whose luxury condos in the park were very successful fellow developers, named it “Jesus of Limestone”. Kent Swig, his spectacular spending ended in a spectacular disaster. And his terrible father-in-law, Harry McCrow, is the city’s most sneaky and most fascinating octet.

Of course, the real heroes of many of the best real estate stories (certainly it’s in my book) are often the most fascinating and mysterious and famous characters of all: New York City itself.

There are many good threads about some of the city’s most iconic properties and the great personality behind them. Some of them have recorded some additional exploits of the above characters. Here are some of my favorites.


Vicky Ward, Liar Ball: The extraordinary saga of how one building broke the toughest tycoon in the world

Ward, best-selling author, former Vanity Fair The contributor editor is a stunning storyteller.of Liar ball, She talks about her dislike of ownership of the famous GM building in Midtown, Manhattan, a luxurious office tower, and a hedge fund shelter across from Central Park. Its owners included, among other things, Donald Trump and the aforementioned Harry McCrow. They bought it for little money and unleashed a value of tens of millions of dollars. At the height of the real estate bubble in 2008, we will buy a $ 2 billion portfolio of Midtown office portfolios with just $ 50 million in our own funds.

Julie Sato, Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel

Sato’s books are magnificent and trace the glorious history of the hotel, which has been synonymous with luxury and charm for generations. This book contains everything. The Gilded Age of the Plaza was born in 1907, and the Vanderbilt and Astor families lived in the sacred hall. And Morgans. Roaring Twenties and Jazz Age — A dazzling good time before the fall when young F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald took a drunken swim in an outside fountain. (Ernest Hemingway once joked that when Scott died, his liver should go to Princeton and his heart should go to Plaza.)

And the role of the famous institution during the dawn of the Second Golden Age: the early days when the mysterious Russian oligarch, famous for surviving the car bombing in the Kremlin parking lot, paid record prices. You can read about the condo conversation plans in the hotel’s largest penthouse. And once again, ubiquitous Harry McCrow and his soon-to-be-divorced 57-year-old wife bought a pair of units, moved in, and put muscle on the condo board. Along the way, you’ll read about the cold-blooded murder, the shameful Indian tycoon who ran the hotel from the largest security prison cell 7,000 miles away in Delhi, and the true story behind Truman Capote’s black-and-white ball.

Michael Lewis, Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
(WW Norton and Company)

This book is not about the building itself. It’s about the banking system and speculators that helped inflate the 2008 subprime real estate bubble. The protagonist is a handful of knowledgeable and eccentric investors who saw what was coming and were willing to bet on everyone else, even if everyone around them said it repeatedly. Such stubborn “madness” (others call it “vision”) enlivens the world’s most daring and successful plays (and some of the most tragic and spectacular failures) of New York City’s development. Often.

That’s why I think Big short The spiritual cousin of my book, New Kings in New York.. It focuses on life-size characters with the courage to endanger all of the “investment papers” that no one else can see, recording their eccentricity and making them a very dire financial situation. Put you in the room with them when navigating it tests the strength of their determination (a common event in the best real estate stories).

Michael Gross, 740 Park: The story of the richest apartment in the world

For almost a century, 740 Park Avenue was New York City’s highest-ranking address for a particular segment of the population. In short, very wealthy and powerful people, the city. Gross takes readers to what they call the “most popular” addresses in the world, detailing bathroom marble choices, ceiling heights, and spacious closets in almost pornographic details. increase. The book also offers many juicy anecdotes, including Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Boubie, Koch, and Schwarzmann. Through the building and its inhabitants, he records the changing social scene, along with the appearance and drama of the city’s ultra-rich people.

Charles Bagli, Others’ Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the End of the Biggest Real Estate Transactions Ever Made
(Plume book)

previous New York Times Reporter Charles Bagli records the origin and elucidation of the city’s most notorious real estate blunder. In 2006, Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock purchased the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village for $ 5.4 billion. Buyers planned to turn a vast 80-acre complex with 11,250 apartments and 110 buildings into a middle-class oasis of city firefighters and teachers to make a profit. .. An influx of young and well-paid professionals moving into the city.

Residents for many years counterattacked, claiming they were harassed and illegally expelled from their rent-controlled apartments to make room for new arrivals to make better payments. The battle in Bib Town has become a cry for a rally of people fighting to maintain the city’s limited and affordable housing, and ultimately fostering populist opposition leading to the progressive election of Mayor Bill de Blasio. It will help.


New Kings in New York Available via Real Deal, according to Adam Piole.

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