Building a Hollow Skyline

A glut of offices, condos and hotels puts developers and lenders in jeopardy

America's skylines once stood as stirring symbols of progress and prosperity. Yet in many cities the glass-and-steel monuments have now come to represent wretched excess. During the past five years, U.S. developers have constructed a breathtaking surplus of office towers, condominium complexes and hotels. In Los Angeles, a rusting, 17-story framework of steel girders on Wilshire Boulevard has stood idle for three years because of collapsed condo prices. Denver's tallest building, the 56-story Republic Plaza office tower, is only half rented despite such amenities as a concierge, an Italian-marble lobby, a car wash and computerized climate control. Florida's $197 million Le...

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