Real Estate Legend Arthur G. Cohen Passes at 84


Olympic Tower
Olympic Tower.

Legendary real estate developer Arthur G. Cohen, a magnate who formed the Arlen Realty and Development Corporation, passed away on Aug. 9 at his family’s home in Kings Point, N.Y., The New York Times reported on Friday.

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Mr. Cohen bought and renovated 15,000 apartment units in the city, formed part of the team behind the mixed-use One Worldwide Plaza on the former site of Madison Square Garden, and combined with Aristotle Onassis on the 51-story Olympic Tower adjacent to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

“There was a time when every deal had Arthur Cohen,” Andrew Albstein, an attorney who once collaborated with Mr. Cohen, told the New York Observer in 2011. “If there was a deal to be done in New York, you had to go through him. He could do anything … He was in construction, commercial, residential, financing—anything and everything.”

Arlen Realty controlled $1.7 billion–or $7.5 billion at current rates–worth of assets in 39 states at its zenith, the Times story says, and Mr. Cohen helped lead development in previously-forgotten or languishing areas like Times Square, Manhattan’s Far West Side and the industrial waterfront of Dumbo, Brooklyn.

But when Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law, Charles Bassine, merged his company with Mr. Cohen’s to start Arlen in 1971, Mr. Bassine confronted charges of nepotism.

“I cordially wish you all such a son-in-law,” Mr. Bassine told a shareholders meeting, according to the Times. “He’s a better man than I am.”