One sidelight question — Canary Wharf... how do they keep the canaries from flyin’ off before they get ‘em unloaded?
BACKGROUND In 1987 the Canadian Reichmann brothers became interested in London's vast Canary Wharf development, a municipal initiative whose goal was the transformation of former docks east of the city into a new corporate office center intended to rival the city's centuries-old business district.
Canary Wharf called for the eventual construction of twenty-four buildings containing twelve million square feet of office space to be connected to the city center by new rail and subway links.
However, lack of financing halted construction until the Reichmanns agreed in 1987 to pump several billion dollars of their own money into the project and serve as its managing partners. The Reichmanns' reputation as savants reassured other lenders, and development of Canary Wharf finally proceeded, promising no less than a restructuring of London's commercial office market and the possible formation of a new center for business throughout Europe.
The Reichmanns' most lucrative deals had occurred in the middle of real estate recessions (the Uris purchase in 1977 and the World Financial Center in 1980), prompting many observers to admire their courage and foresight when the market strengthened and their projects became gold mines. Canary Wharf, on the other hand, was initiated at the height of a real estate boom which had already enjoyed five years of solid growth.
When the bottom fell out in 1989, the Reichmanns found themselves in serious trouble along with the ninety-odd banks and other lenders who had put their faith in the Reichmann mystique.
To make matters worse, their company Olympia & York was also completing work on 55 Water Street in New York City, the world's largest single office building as measured by square footage, and the brothers had become entangled in the decline of Campeau Corporation, the Canadian retailing conglomerate in which the Reichmanns were major shareholders.