How Bloomberg's Bluster Inspired New York to Build Taller

Kicking off its in-depth examination of the ways in which New York City has been remade during Mayor Bloomberg's tenure, Matthew Schuerman looks at the city's astonishing vertical growth, a significant feat considering the shadow of 9/11.

"In research conducted for WNYC, NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy determined that new buildings constructed between 2000 and 2010 were taller - in terms of the number of floors - than those built during the previous decade - in all but six of the city's 59 community boards. Those increases can be found in areas where zoning rules had been changed to accommodate taller buildings, such as downtown Brooklyn, as well as areas that saw no rezonings, such as Washington Heights and Inwood, where developers took advantage of old zoning rules that allow buildings to be much bigger than they were."

During Bloomberg's tenure, 7 of the city's 20 tallest buildings were constructed. 

"Real estate developers say the biggest reason they built bigger and taller was because Mayor Bloomberg projected the sense that the city had a future, and that the future looked bright (at least to them and the people able to afford the 360-degree views from atop their towers)," explains Schuerman.

"Francis Morrone, an architectural historian and author of the forthcoming Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes, said he appreciates that Bloomberg is trying to keep pace with London and Shanghai in the competition for global companies. But Morrone said the mayor's growth agenda also has a major downside. He cited a 2009 study by the Center for an Urban Future [PDF] that argued that tens of thousands of middle-class New Yorkers were leaving the city because of the high cost of living."

"The city is going to survive. The city is going to thrive," Morrone said. "Not all the people in the city are going to thrive, or even continue living here."

Other entries in the "New York Remade" series have looked at the Mayor's efforts to expand affordable housing and lengthening commutes for the city's poorer residents.  

Full Story: New York, the Vertical City, Kept Rising Under Bloomberg

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