The New York Story Is Not the Real Estate Story

A view of the “Vessel” in Hudson Yards in New York City on September 30,

This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves and just say it: New York really is a city of 8 million people so desperate for an apartment they are willing to make massive offerings at the altar of big real estate to get one.

Perhaps that’s why not one of the dozen or so candidates who will feature in the city’s mayoral primary on June 22 is talking about the obscene luxurification of the city envisioned for the post-pandemic era.

You thought Hudson Yards, the militarized, over-subsidized, ridiculously deluxe crop of towers that loom over the West 30s like an occupying army, was bad?

Now think Hudson Yards on steroids. That would be Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mammoth plan to retool the area around Penn Station with 10 new office buildings, one of them the size of the Empire State Building.

No: It would be the Gowanus rezoning, slated to bring 8,000 new apartments in towers as high as 30 stories to an 82 block area of Brooklyn centered on a toxic superfund site.

No: It would be the $18 billion plan to turn to private investors to fund repairs to the city’s public housing.

Or the 43 story tower announced for the Bronx waterfront at 149th Street and River Avenue.

Or the twin towers proposed for Park Avenue and 125th Street in Harlem.

Or the four super-tall towers recently approved for the water’s edge near Chinatown.

Or the dystopian array of skyscrapers, including the borough’s tallest building (and another one in the works that could be even taller), that already blanket the streets around Queens Plaza.

Data from the NYC department of buildings shows that the number of construction permits issued or renewed, which had dropped almost 17 percent in 2020, is already rebounding in 2021. The stats also show that there are currently 6,130 new construction and major alteration projects ongoing in the city, involving close to 122,000 apartments. Most of the projects mentioned above have not yet gone into construction and so don’t yet appear in the department’s numbers.