Boston real estate developer begs for open Cuba

“Whatever motivated the original break in the U.S.-Cuban relations,” Boston real estate developer Don Chiofaro wrote in a Saturday op-ed piece in the Boston Herald, “it is incomprehensible to me why it continues.” I guess he’s unfamiliar with the Cuban missile crisis and the fear of communism that pervaded the United States while he was growing up.

The topic of Cuba has come up a few times on the pages of Gadling over the past few weeks – and for good reason. Foreign visitors do find the country to be safe, and many have a great time visiting there. Cigar smokers (among which I count myself) eagerly await the day that the borders open and all those illicit Montecristos become legit. More than 45 years have past since the embargo was implemented, and a lot has changed. But, we need to be a tad realistic about the situation.

Cuba is still plagued by an abysmal human rights record, and many Cuban-Americans remember this aspect of their earlier lives without a shred of fondness. The company is ruled not by the vote of the people (even indirectly, as democracy functions up here) but by a single voice that mixes dictatorship with signs of royalty – just note that Fidel Castro turned control of the country over to his brother, Raul.

I’m not supporting the embargo, which I do suspect is anachronistic, but I do suggest that serious thought must be applied to U.S. policy. We need to do more than rely on the observations of a Boston businessman who took advantage of a boondoggle from friends in high places.

More realistically, Chiofaro is stinging from battles with Boston’s mayor, Tom Menino, and still hasn’t fully recovered from the near loss of his prized International Place towers back in 2004 and 2005. Or, the promise of land to be developed has probably caught his eye. Either way, he’s talking without thinking again, as he did when he referred to New York-based property development firm Tishman Speyer as a “gang of pirates.”

C’mon, Don. A builder should know the value of being “constructive.”

[Via Boston Herald]

Rainbow Room loses pot of gold

New York’s Rainbow Room is about to close its Rainbow Grill restaurant. Perched atop 30 Rockefeller Center, the restaurant has accumulated a reputation for dazzling views and putting you on top of the world in as close to the literal sense as possible. This week, the restaurant suffered its own fall … a 65-storey fall, to be exact.

The Rainbow Grill, which serves pricey Italian-style food, will shut down on January 12, 2009. The bar, banquet facilities and weekend dinner-dancing will live on, however. The twin culprits are the general economic decline and a dispute with its landlord, the “pirates” at Tishman Speyer.

Of course, everyone in Manhattan is entitled to a second act, and the Rainbow Room may come back. The Cipriani family, which owns the landmark restaurant, calls the decision temporary.

[Via MSNBC and Gawker]