All Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M Mc N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z Welcome Home
Local Folders.. A B C D E F G H I J K L M Mc N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z
-1 +1

"COG" 2003 Obituary


COGAN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-24 published
'The lovable rogue' who made and lost fortunes
One of Canada's most successful real-estate salesmen threw famous parties, especially during the 1980s boom, when he brokered property deals worth more than $10-billion
By James McCREADY, Special to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - Page R9
Toronto -- His Friends called him a lovable rogue. His enemies left out the lovable. Eddy COGAN was a love-him or hate-him kind of guy, a brash real-estate salesman, maybe the most successful real-estate salesmen of his era in Canada. He sold more than $10-billion of real estate in the 1980s, by far his most successful decade.
When Eddy COGAN died in late October, people remembered two things about him straightaway: He was the one who brokered the huge Greymac apartment deal. And he was also the greatest party-giver of the 1980s in Toronto, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a three-day bash, when he would take over the entire Windsor Arms Hotel -- rooms, restaurants and bars -- and open them to his Friends.
Mr. COGAN brokered a deal in 1982 to sell 10,931 apartment units belonging to Cadillac Fairview to a group led by Leonard ROSENBERG of Greymac Trust. The sale was worth $320-million but Mr. COGAN found out a couple of hours later that Mr. ROSENBERG and his partners had flipped the buildings, selling them for $500-million to what turned out to be a fictitious Saudi Arabian consortium. Mr. ROSENBERG eventually went to jail, but Mr. COGAN was clean since he didn't have any part in the illegal flip.
Edwin Aubrey COGAN was born on October 5, 1934. His father had fled Ukraine after the Russian Revolution. It was a sound decision, since Stalin starved the Ukrainian peasants in the 1930s and Hitler's death squads killed almost all the Jews in Kiev during the Nazi occupation.
Eddy's father was a professional boxer and waiter who changed his name from COHEN to COGAN to get work at Toronto's Park Plaza Hotel, which didn't hire Jews in the 1930s. Eddy went to Palmerston Public School but wasn't much of a student and dropped out of school in Grade 9. At 15, he went west and worked in the woods in British Columbia.
A few years of manual labour had him thinking about a change, and he returned to school and qualified as a land surveyor. After many years working surveying properties, he decided to move into real estate. In the 1950s, when Mr. COGAN started doing property deals, most of the action was in what is called "assembling" land, which means buying up huge tracts of land, not just in the country but also in the city.
Mr. COGAN would do things such as go door-to-door asking people if they wanted to sell their houses or buildings. He was working for developers such as Cadillac Fairview, which in turn would put up a strip of high-rise apartment buildings once the land had been assembled. Probably more than any town planner, Mr. COGAN changed the face of Toronto from the 1950s to the 1980s.
"After rent control came in, in 1975, there was less demand for buildings," says Larry COGAN, who worked with his father for more than 20 years. "It was the main reason Cadillac Fairview decided to sell off those properties."
It was that deal that made Eddy COGAN rich and allowed him to launch the famous parties of the 1980s. The parties ended with the real-estate crash of 1989-90. Mr. COGAN had invested in a 6,000-acre property called the "jail lands" just north of the city. It was an old prison farm that was to be turned into a residential development. When the property boom went bust, so did Mr. COGAN. It was the end of one big fortune and the start of a decade spent rebuilding his wealth. In the 1990s, perhaps his most successful transaction involved Terminal 3 at Toronto's Pearson Airport.
Mr. COGAN was a slender man with a wiry build and movie-star good looks. Women found him attractive, and his Friends said that women were his weakness. He enjoyed spending time in Los Angeles and New York in the company of models and actresses -- some famous, some not.
"When he saw an opportunity to be with a high-profile, beautiful woman, he would approach it like a real-estate project," his son Larry said. "He would network and use all his skills to close the deal."
Like many people who work on deals for a living, Eddy COGAN had an unconventional business day, in particular in the latter part of his career. He loathed gadgets. He didn't like cellphones or computers and never had an e-mail address of his own. Rather than offices, he preferred to meet in restaurants, though he was a light eater and didn't drink much. After the Windsor Arms and its restaurants closed, he switched to Prego, a restaurant in Yorkville.
Mr. COGAN lived his work. He was always working on a deal, micromanaging it to make sure the project came off.
"He was a big thinker. He was very fit and he liked to walk and think," said Diane FRANCIS, the journalist who became a close friend after doing a few stories on him in the mid-1980s. "The last big deal he was working on was in Niagara Falls, New York."
When he first looked at Niagara Falls, the town on the Ontario side was a success, with a casino and a diversified tourist trade. Niagara Falls, New York was a dump, with an empty centre, shuttered factories and a neighbourhood that was a household name for environmental catastrophe, Love Canal. Mr. COGAN spent the better part of a decade trying to develop the New York side into a place as successful as the Ontario side. At the time of his death, a casino had opened on the New York side and he was closer to putting his dream together.
He lived in downtown Toronto in a huge penthouse in the Colonnade on Bloor Street, a rental apartment with a small swimming pool inside the unit. Mr. COGAN was a generous man, always willing to help his Friends. Once, when promoters were trying to put together a race between American and Canadian superstar sprinters, Mr. COGAN helped bankroll it. It lost money.
Mr. COGAN married once and divorced. He leaves his six children.

  C... Names     CO... Names     COG... Names     Welcome Home

COGAN - All Categories in OGSPI