Behold the New Luxury Building Boom

Some people like to go on about how New York City is “anti-development,” due to zoning and slow change, and that that’s what’s making the housing market bonkers this year. That’s not really true, though I appreciate the frustrations of trying to develop in the City, which are endless. What made New York real estate crazy in the last year, and along the way shoved the rental vacancy rate well below 1%, was a combination of basically negligible interest rates for residential buyers (who then bought up literally everything in Brooklyn) and a bunch of development plans that went bust or at least stalled during the recession, because buildings are built by massive, complicated loan-taking, with tight margins, and when things go wrong, blammo, you’re toast. It’s a very bold business! But that’s all going to change! Sort of. For a while. Right now, “at least nine residential towers are slated to rise within the next few years in Downtown Brooklyn,” which is kind of intense but also, of course, necessary. Meanwhile, it’s up, up and away for residential development: Frank Gehry’s One Spruce will not be the tallest residential building for long, as apparently a bunch of folks are getting their loans and tax breaks in order to build really tall: 90-plus floors, with one building potentially topping out at 1400 terrifying, swaying feet. (The 76-story Gehry building is only 870 feet tall, and when you’re up there, man it is high.) That all this is happening around the same time as the City is talking about reducing minimum apartment size — the rise of the “micro-apartment” — is pretty telling. The bad news: none of this building preserves or creates affordable housing. The good news: when the revolution comes, we’ll have all the oligarchs isolated and vulnerable — or, at best, trapped.