Even businessmen at the GM Building this afternoon were unaware of the tower’s impending sale by owner Harry Macklowe, which doesn’t quite signal stellar newspaper consumption levels in New York.
A group of smokers outside had no idea; but even if the building is sold (bids are due tomorrow), one man said, his firm has a 10-year lease so it makes no difference. Without breaking his purposeful stride to lunch another, Wall Street type shouted over his shoulder, "I don’t know anything about the sale, I’m just one of the investors involved."
He was probably kidding, but who knows? Nearby, I heard a well-dressed man speaking Arabic on the phone and wondered if he might be a potential buyer since investors have lately been looking to free-flowing petrol dollars to make up for the stateside liquidity crunch. He disappeared before I could check my hunch.
"I know Mr. Macklowe is being forced to sell, but I didn’t know he was taking bids tomorrow and he hasn’t delivered the news to me personally yet," a suited-investment adviser, who declined to give his name, quipped as he hurried out the GM Building. "If he wants to call me up and talk, I’d be happy to advise him on the sale, it’s my job after all."
"It’s all corporate in there," his companion intoned. "We’re peons, they don’t tell us anything."
The doormen also haven’t been told much, though a few were aware that the building is for sale. A doorman who identified himself as Joe said prospective buyers had been coming in for the past two weeks. Joe could not specify which ones, but said he knows they are buyers, because they always "ask for Mr. Macklowe."
Another sign of the shake up, he said, is Mr. Macklowe’s different demeanor.
"Yeah he’s been stressed, you can see it in his eyes," Joe said, widening his eyes for emphasis. "He’s always in and out of the building, but lately he just looks tired, like he hasn’t slept in days."
Another doorman said he has been at the building for the "past three contracts," but Mr. Macklowe was the only owner to make noticeable cosmetic changes to the once-green and gold marble facade of the landmark tower. He said he had gotten used to the gold Trump lettering by the time it was taken down, but is dubious that any name change would stick.
"It might catch on, but it’s the same concept they use at every sports stadium in America," the doorman said. "They all attach some company name, but everyone still calls the stadium the team name. If you want my opinion, I don’t like it."
Inside FAO Schwartz, on the GM Building’s ground floor, even people who’d worked inside the tower for decades were oblivious.
"I don’t know who’s buying it," said a ground-floor candy vendor named Keith, "but this is the GM building, a landmark, so I expect they’d be pretty rich."