Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Urbanism: Does New York City Need Higher Skyscrapers?

(Drivebycuriosity) - When you walk through New York City you can see a lot of construction sites. It looks like that new skyscrapers are popping up like mushrooms in autumn. There could come many more towers if a new proposal gets realized.

Nathan Newman, a New York lawyer, leads a campaign, called "More NYC" (huffingtonpost). He advocates a massive expansion of housing in New York City (slate). This would translate into more and higher residential skyscrapers.

In the east coast metropolis, as in the whole US, constructing, including the height of buildings, is regulated by zoning laws. Newman proposes a change of the existing zoning, called up-zoning. The city administration should permit the construction of higher buildings which would create a lot of new apartments. In return the city should charge an extra fee for the additional construction. The city also would earn income taxes, property taxes and sales taxes from all the new residents who will find a place in the new towers.

New York City could use the additional revenues to directly finance the construction of affordable housing units in other lower-cost areas of the city and to finance public services, writes Newman. A part of the additional city income could go to transit, educational and medical infrastructure in the City like buses, subways, schools and hospitals.

I believe that this is an interesting idea. And there is another advantage which I haven´t found in his proposal. As I had explained before more & higher skyscrapers would increase the supply of apartments in New York City and thus slow down the rise of the rents in the metropolis (driveby).

Rents are climbing because the demand for apartments is rising and New York City, especially Manhattan, has a limited supply of land. But skyscrapers offer a loophole. The higher they rise, the more apartments are available, without using more land. Another loophole is the use of the waste land which you still could find along East River and Hudson. Therefore building more and higher skyscrapers would create a lot of new rental places which should keep the rents at bay.

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