New York’s City Shapers

Mr. Balazs confirmed for The Observer that he is also involved in another High Line-area hotel project in the vicinity of 14th Street and Tenth Avenue. “It’s a smaller boutique,” he said, “on the scale of the Mercer.” Construction could begin as soon as next summer.

As for his also-rumored involvement in plans by the new management for the embattled Chelsea Hotel, the handsome hotelier would only say, “The owners there are still pointing fingers at each other and sorting things out. It’s way too early for us to get involved.”


Sheldon Solow is one of the richest real estate moguls in the city (estimated net worth: about $2 billion, according to Forbes)—and is reputedly the most litigious of them all.

According to a recent New York Times tally, Mr. Solow has initiated more than 200 lawsuits, making his tenacious courtroom reputation every bit as imposing as the 50-story office tower at 9 West 57th Street that he’s known for.

Maybe more so.

Just listen to opposing lawyers sound off on their run-ins with the old man: “He was trying to obtain legal fees for $800,000 for a trial that had lasted less than two days and had two witnesses!” And: “He’s sued this case over nine years—eight different courts—and he’s never won anything!”

Mr. Solow is at present planning a reported $4 billion development consisting of seven luxury towers on the site of Con Edison’s old Waterside power plants along First Avenue—the scope and scale of which makes some city officials nervous.

Think they’ll sue?


Lee Bollinger is a noted legal scholar and reputed expert on the First Amendment.

Where the current Columbia University president stands on the Fourth Amendment, though, is what has many Harlem residents worried.

Columbia is planning a massive 17-acre expansion of its Harlem campus, which the New York Planning Commission approved last week. The plan reportedly contained provisions that could allow the government to employ eminent domain in snatching up land for the school’s expansion—this, despite earlier promises that the university would, in most cases, look to buy properties from willing sellers.

Mr. Bollinger has long trumpeted the supposed benefits of the vast expansion. In August, he appeared at a public hearing to give a short speech about all the good-paying jobs it would create in the neighborhood. Not that you could really hear it over all the loud booing and shouts of “Liar!” from the audi
ence. (A video of the raucous exchange can be viewed via YouTube.)

Despite all the taunting, Mr. Bollinger has remained steadfast in his respect for even his cranky critics’ right to free speech. As he told the loud crowd back in August, “It will be a pity if this were not to be debated in a serious way.”

Everybody seemed to want a piece of Giuseppe Cipriani this year: landlords, the tabloids, the Manhattan district attorney. But the sharp-dressed restaurateur and financier barely flinched.

Despite agreeing to plead guilty to tax violations and fork over a $10 million fine, Mr. Cipriani still kept his liquor license, his Rolls Royce, his private jet, his yacht—and, according to the Daily News, was even thinking about building a new boat.

Think all the bad press might have hindered his sprawling banquet-hall empire’s ability to land prestigious bookings? Hell no. It’s holiday party season.

This week, Mr. Cipriani welcomes scores of deep-pocketed lawyers from the big firm Fried Frank to gather under his chandelier-adorned 65-foot ceiling on 42nd Street.


Michael Shvo is no doubt a shameless self-promoter, disliked by many of his peers. Consider his high-end condo-marketing company’s slogan: Let’s SHVO.

“‘Let’s SHVO’? Now that’s an ego,” his former colleague, Dolly Lenz, recently told The Observer.

But the man can sell. And perhaps no one is faster to boast about it than the limo-riding, onetime Douglas Elliman top-grossing broker himself.

“[It] defies everything that’s being declared about the state of the market right now,” Mr. Shvo, 36, gleefully announced after unloading nearly half of the condos at the W New York-Downtown Hotel & Residences in a single day last month, with prices starting at $2,000 per square foot.

Shvo much for sour grapes.

“I am so pro-Brooklyn, you can hear it in my voice,” said Joanne Minieri, the newly promoted president of Forest City Ratner Companies.

Born in Bensonhurst, the 47-year-old former accountant is now one of the highest-profile women in the vastly male-dominated field of real estate development.

New York’s City Shapers