Development as Preservation

Preservation laws often ban additions to designated buildings, which can be counterproductive, says Stephen Smith, who argues that incremental add-ons can protect buildings from future redevelopment driven by market forces.

Smith focuses his attention on New York, which he calls a "hotbed of addition-induced turmoil.":

"The enormous pent-up demand occasionally surges through the legal barriers, with unapproved additions and penthouses popping up throughout the city, and developers sometimes being forced to tear them down."

"A few months ago a building in Dumbo lost six stories that were almost five years old because the owners never got a zoning variance to add residential space to the commercially-zoned property. Developers like Ramy Issac and Ben Shaoul have become infamous as "tenement toppers," and while their tactics are sometimes unsavory and illegal, the fact that anyone is willing to take such a risk is indicative of the extraordinary unmet demand for density in the city."

Thanks to Stephen Smith

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