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CELEBRATING MANHATTAN SKYSCRAPERS continues here in Part 2, with tidbits gleaned from Stefano Chen’s “New York City’s Evolving Skyline,” The New York Times, June 9, 2019. Here, developers seek to sidestep complex building codes. Prospective residential and business occupants seek enhanced views from lofty perspectives. And, thus far, no one seems to be put off by prices soaring as well.

Buying Nearby Air. Developers have learned to game the complex building code regulations. There’s a limitation of allowable height and bulk depending on land area. One way around this is for a developer to buy up the “air rights” of adjacent properties. Another is to build taller but skinnier projects.

New towers of Hudson Yards, on Manhattan’s far West Side.

The Higher, the Better. Height is a real attraction to both residential and business occupants. Daniel Safarik, an editor at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, is quoted as saying, “You can’t even start residential occupancy below 20 floors in a lot of these buildings, because the view has already been blocked.”

Soaring comparisons of Manhattan’s 10 tallest: From left to right, One World Trade Center, 1776 ft.; 432 Park Avenue, 1397 ft.; 30 Hudson Yard, 1268 ft.; Empire State Building, 1250 ft.; Bank of America Tower, 1200 ft.; 3 World Trade Center, 1079 ft.; 53 West 53rd, 1050 ft.; Chrysler Building, 1046 ft.; New York Times Tower, 1046 ft., 35 Hudson Yard, 1010 ft. Image from The New York Times.

One ploy of developers is incorporating “voids” into a building’s lower levels. These are ostensibly for housing heating/air conditioning and other building mechanicals. But, as Chen observes, these fake floors “effectively push apartments skyward for higher premiums.”

$$$/Sq. Ft. Each Sunday, The New York Times reports on a cost-based trio of homes available in different parts of the country: for example, in April 3, 2019, “$875,000 Homes in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and California. Also cited with each residence is the cost/sq. ft., in this particular piece, $236 for Greensboro, $257 for Milwaukee, and $503 for Sonoma County.

By contrast, Chen writes, “By 2007, some developers were getting $3000 a square foot, often on the strength of the views. In 2012, Dmitry Ryboloviev, a Russian billionaire, paid a record $13,049 a square foot for an $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West, a limestone high-rise with panoramic city views that pushed prices, and competing buildings, even higher.”

A Fool and his $cene May Soon be Parted. There’s a competition for taller and taller buildings, obviously putting height-challenged structures in their shadows. Also, Chen observes that “Much of the recent development was driven by the luxury condo market, which peaked around 2016, and there is a glut of new unsold apartments.”

“At the current pace of sales,” Chen quotes one appraiser, “it would take nine years to sell those 9000 unsold units.”

One World Trade Center is the tallest building in New York City. Its spire tops it off at a symbolic 1776 ft.

In the meantime, skyscrapers still inspire awe by being so spectacular. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

One comment on “HIGH ON MANHATTAN PART 2

  1. phil ford
    June 21, 2019

    Money-laundering, at its finest.

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