The Chocolate War (on Park Ave.)

a Fauchon candies The Chocolate War (on Park Ave.)
Don’t be a hater, Harry.

In addition to recently buying a midtown hotel, East 77th St. townhouse and a couple units in The Plaza, developer Harry Macklowe has become embroiled in a dispute with his chocolatier tenant, Fauchon, reports the New York Times.

The argument revolves around Fauchon’s retail space in the Drake Hotel, which Mr. Macklowe purchased last month for over $418 million, and now reportedly plans to demolish to building a luxury apartment building.

Fauchon, which occupied the only storefront in the Drake, had more than a decade left on its lease. But Mr. Macklowe made clear that he wanted to clear the building. Early this month, he paid Fauchon $4 million to shorten its lease. Fauchon expected to remain there until April 2007, doing business as usual.

Both sides are now at odds over a variety of issues: air-conditioning, bathrooms, and hanging decorative flags on the building’s exterior. But why dwell those petty matters? The more probing question seems to be whether Mr. Macklowe likes chocolate or not. Seriously!

As for whether Mr. Macklowe is a chocolate lover or a chocolate hater, the lawyer who represented him in court, Richard Claman, would not say. He referred a reporter to a spokesman for Mr. Macklowe, Howard J. Rubenstein, who said he did not know, either, but promised to put the question to him.

Mr. Rubenstein called back a few minutes later and said: “When I started asking him about chocolate, he started talking to me about French fries. He wouldn’t talk about chocolate.”

- Michael Calderone