The monolithic Time Warner Center

2000 Apollo and The Related Companies fix up a blighted Columbus Circle

When construction started on the Time Warner Center in 2000, there were many skeptics who doubted the ambitious plan, which was the most expensive in New York City's history. Designed by architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the $1.6 billion block now stands as the biggest single building in America. The 80-story edifice includes more than 50 stores, 195 condominiums, Time Warner's 864,000 square feet of broadcast facilities and corporate headquarters, one million square feet of additional office space, seven restaurants, a Whole Foods market, an Equinox health club and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The complex is so vast it requires 73 elevators and has six addresses.

When the Coliseum that formerly occupied the space was declared obsolete in 1986, many developers rushed in with proposals. For eight years the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owned the land, negotiated with developers, community groups and politicians; finally in 1996 a deal was reached. The problem then became financing the largest construction loan of all time, $1.3 billion. General Motors Acceptance Corp. stepped in to finance the project, and Apollo Real Estate Advisors partnered with The Related Companies to develop the property.

Not only was the Center, unveiled in 2004, the first major building to be completed after the September 11th attacks—the condominiums actually went on sale two weeks before the attacks—it was also one of the largest developments ever taken on by a private equity real estate fund, a fact that turned some heads.

“Historically most private equity opportunistic real estate funds haven't really been development oriented, or certainly if they were never on the scale that you saw here,” says one industry practitioner. “The size and scale of that transaction was what you'd see from a large, world-class developer. This showed that opportunity funds have that capacity as well.”