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Mixed-use development under way at Coliseum site

NEW YORK - After 15 years of stops and starts, a monumental mixed-use complex is finally under development at the Coliseum site on Broadway at Columbus Circle.

Columbus Centre LLC, New York, announced plans and unveiled designs June 28 for the $1.7 billion project, to be called Columbus Centre. Columbus Center LLC is the development team composed of The Related Cos. LP, Apollo Real Estate Advisors LP and The Palladium Co.

The 2.8 million sq. ft. development promises to be "another signature landmark" for New York City, said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the unveiling.

Designed by David M. Childs of the New York office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the 55-story project will consist of two 750-foot glass towers shaped like parallelograms and angled to follow Broadway as it moves through the Manhattan grid.

One of the largest new developments in New York City in years, Columbus Centre promises to be "New York City's icon for the 21st century," said development partner Stephen M. Ross, chairman and CEO of The Related Cos.

Developers landed AOL Time Warner as the lead office tenant. The media giant will occupy 864,000 sq. ft. of office and studio facilities, including broadcast facilities for live transmission of CNN and CNNfn.

At the insistence of the Giuliani administration, which in 1997 said that any development on the site must include a performing arts center, the complex will be the new home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Columbus Centre will provide the jazz program with a 1,100-seat concert theater, a 600-seat performance atrium and a 140-seat jazz cafe as well as recording studios and classroom space dedicated to jazz.

The complex also will house a seven-story retail venue of 364,000 sq. ft. Its south tower will contain 203 luxury condominiums, while the north tower will include a 249-room luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Besides the AOL Time Warner space, the project will also contain 193,000 sq. ft. of leasable office space and 548 enclosed parking spaces.

At the southwest entrance to Central Park, between 58th and 60th streets, the complex will be in the center of an entertainment and media corridor. Specifically, the corridor stretches from Times Square and the Broadway theater district to the south and Lincoln Center and ABC Studios to the north on the Upper West Side. Completion is scheduled for late 2003.

GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. is providing $1.3 billion in financing. That figure includes a $1.1 billion construction loan - which GMAC claims to be the largest construction loan ever made for a private development project in the United States - and $200 million in mezzanine debt.

Developers have had their eye on the prime Coliseum site for decades. A previous design proposal announced in the late-1980s by Mortimer Zuckerman and Boston Properties ran into opposition by a Manhattan community board and protesters concerned with how the proposed building would cast a shadow across Central Park.

The collapse of the commercial real estate market in 1989 led to further delays. In 1996, the Giuliani administration and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owned the site, put out a new request for development proposals that led to the current project team.

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