Real Estate: The Restraining Hand

In return for the $43.7 million that they pumped last year into the real estate empire of Manhattan's William Zeckendorf, 57, his new British partners extracted one condition: "From now on, anything we don't like won't happen." In response, aggressive Bill Zeckendorf, who had been keeping in fighting trim by agilely staying one step ahead of his creditors, earnestly promised to indulge in "less shooting from the hip." Longtime students of the Zeckendorf saga wondered just how long Bill Zeckendorf could stay away from grandiose real estate projects.

His restraint has confounded...

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