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The Never-Built Legacy of New York's Tech Firms

A big picture explanation, with case studies, of why New York's newest wave of commercial businesses won't leave their mark on the city like it might have in the past.
December 23, 2014, 5am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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According to an article by Stephen Smith, "50 or 100 years into the future, when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren stroll through the neighborhoods of Midtown South that are today thick with technology and creative firms, they are not likely to find much left over from the likes of Facebook or Google."

Smith continues: "There will be no equivalent of Grand Central or Penn Station, Terminal City or the Hotel Pennsylvania, left over from the early 20th century railroad tycoons, or SoHo’s cast iron buildings, developed by speculators seeking to feed the growing textile and dry-goods trades of the late 19th century. Perhaps unique among New York’s large industries, the tech and creative tenants that have become the darlings of the current market cycle are leaving very little behind for future generations to admire."

The lack of new construction is not because companies like Google and Facebook don't want to build. Rather, the lack of construction in caused by the desire of these companies to locate in Midtown South, rather than in traditional commercial areas like downtown or parts of Midtown. Smith explains: "New construction in Midtown South is heavily restricted, both through zoning and landmark districts. Park Avenue South may be largely built out, and razing those old buildings in favor of glassy new skyscrapers is unrealistic, but planners have been hostile to growth even in the low-slung Meatpacking District, where the existing structures are far less dense and distinctly less pedigreed."

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Published on Friday, December 19, 2014 in New York YIMBY
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