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FEATURE

Falling Cranes and New York’s Growing Pains





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The dangerous hypocrisy of overbuilding in Bloomberg’s New York.

It happened again. A crane has fallen in New York City, killing a construction worker, wrecking an apartment building nearby, terrifying and disrupting the lives of nearby residents who must scramble about looking for someplace to stay, find their pets, try to recover their precious possessions, and hear the same blather from the current city administration. Tighter restrictions, more inspections will be called for.

This same event occurred a short while ago a few blocks down from Yorkville in the Beekman Place section of the city. And it will happen again and again because it is now a familiar p
art of Mayor Bloomberg’s New York where a crane hangs dangerously over the world below every few blocks. Indeed, it is a direct result of the policies in place in the city. Build! Build! And build more until they have wiped out the sky altogether. This is the way it is in Hedge Fund Heaven – a/k/a New York City.

The secret of living in this New York is to live in a protected area of historic brownstones and town houses such as the Mayor lives in; a place which cannot be taken down to be rebuilt as a monster residential building; a secret that now requires the possession of several million, no, possibly several billion dollars.

The trick for the rest of us is not to get killed or driven from our homes by the reckless overbuilding that has overtaken New York since Bloomberg became Mayor, which coinci
ded with the great building bubble here and elsewhere. An impotent, toothless, realty based (not reality based) Landmark Commission has done little to protect the environmental, esthetic, or plain safety of the city and its citizens. A building inspection commission designed to encourage building and turn a blind eye to infractions in existing laws is embedded into the culture of the city.

Real estate is the true religion of New York and it requires constant devotion by its adherents, which means, put up yet another tower next to another tower, ad infinitum. Sure, I know that real estate is a vital part of our tax base. But this does not mean that it cannot be challenged, or replaced by other forms of revenue.

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