As Michael Bloomberg’s reign comes to a close, our mayor/billionaire underwriter is talking up his next move, which involves teaching other cities to be more like New York. But behind the scenes, he’s also scrambling to push through dozens of building projects that will define his legacy.
A few days ago, the mayor announced his plans to form a consulting group that will teach other cities to be more like New York, an “urban SWAT team” in the words of The New York Times, helping other municipalities achieve the same economic, health, and cultural growth that New York has seen under El Bloombito.
But behind the scenes, the outgoing administration is quietly hustling to gain approvals on a whopping $12 billion worth of building projects. It seems that Bloomberg would rather be remembered for the economic miracle he nurtured into being—and the building boom it spurred—than for nannying his constituents. After all, the NYT reminds us that 40 percent of New York City has been rezoned under Bloomberg—and this new crop of approvals and tax breaks will cement that physical legacy.
Let’s get to know some of the biggest, shall we?
Domino Sugar: 1.5 Billion
The tortured project to rebuild Williamsburg’s post-industrial waterfront as a gigantic luxury housing development is finally underway—the SHoP-designed towers span 11 acres of waterfront, and though they’ve been redesigned to be more “porous.” Many still oppose the development, but on December 11, Community Board 1 approved the project with only minor quibbles.
Hallets Point: $1 billion
“Halletts Point is one of the few remaining New York neighborhoods that feels like a timeless, undisturbed backwater, forgotten by the city and left to urban entropy,” writes Nathan Kensinger in this photo essay on the neighborhood. Well, not for long: This billion-dollar project—approved this fall by City Council—is going to turn a grassy park that points from Queens towards Manhattan into a complex of 2,100 luxury apartments, restaurants, shops, and a waterfront promenade.
St. George outlet mall and observation wheel: $580 million
Even New York isn’t safe from the race to build a bigger Ferris wheel. This plan will combine America’s two favorite things: Amusement parks and outlet malls. Nestled along the Staten Island waterfront, it calls for the construction of 125 outlet shops and the largest Ferris Wheel in the Western Hemisphere. The project was approved by City Council in November, though funding remains uncertain—construction is slated to begin in 2016.
Hudson Yards: $1.2 Billion
Destined to add an insane 13 million square feet of residential and commercial property to Manhattan’s market over the next ten to fifteen years, this 16-tower development is the largest the city has seen in years. Here’s a great example of a project that incoming mayor Bill de Blasio might not look so kindly upon: Last week, the city approved $120 million in tax breaksfor the developers of Hudson Yards, a practice De Blasio has said he will cut back on.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Hunter College: $1.7 billion
A joint project between Sloan-Kettering and Hunter, this complex will build a 1.15-million square foot tower along FDR Drive by 2018. The plan was approved in November—and according to The New York Times, it will be too late to reverse it by the time De Blasio takes office in January,
Greenpoint Landing: $2 Billion
Here’s the big one. Perhaps the most controversial plan on the docket, this mega-developmentreceived the go-ahead from City Council last week. The development will transform the sleepy Greenpoint waterfront with ten glassy residential towers, adding 5,500 units to the neighborhood.
Willets Point: $3 Billion
Another example of a project that would come under fire from De Blasio. Though locals argue their neighborhood isn’t as blighted as the city claims it is, this 62-acre development—including 2,490 units of housing, a shopping center and an entrainment complex—was approved by City Council October. Last week, the city approved a $43 million tax break for its developers.
Bloomberg might be sneaking these projects into the world like a teenager tiptoeing through the backdoor after curfew, but that’s not to say that De Blasio is anti-development. As Gothamistpoints out, he received thousands of dollars of campaign donations from the very developers mentioned in this article. He’s more likely to be a “development pragmatist,” in the words ofCapital NY, driving harder bargains but not giving developers the complete (and very tall) cold shoulder.
Whether he’ll continue or simply amend Bloomberg’s party line? We’ll have to wait for 2014 to see.
I’m all for transforming NYC, but at what expense? The way things are going, a lot of people will be priced out of NYC.12/19/13 2:31pm
Forgive me for my ignorance, I have only visited NYC once as a child, but are there any non-rich people living in this city anymore? I can hardly believe that these glass towers and fancy restorations are accessible to people making less than 100k a year. So where are those making your sandwiches, sweeping your streets, and serving your street meat living if the entirety of the city is being gentrified into oblivion? Are they all commuting from an hour outside the city? Are they all traveling from Connecticut, New Jersey, etc? 12/19/13 2:37pm
Oh there are non-rich people in the city but it takes groups of 3-4 individuals to squeeze into one $3000 a month small ass apt to afford to live here. 12/19/13 2:40pm
“are there any non-rich people living in this city anymore?”
in manhatten, below 110th street… no.
in the rest of the 5 boroughs, which is the majority of new york… yes. 12/19/13 2:42pm
I think google earth and NYC should combine to do a “Future Earth”. If all of the officially proposed concepts (real projects, even if they aren’t funded) are completed what would the 5 boroughs look like in 25 years. 3D models you can fly in and around and see street level views. It couldn’t be too hard for the city planning board to require a 3D model submitted with any planning submission for projects over $50M or 10 stories. It could be a tool for neighborhood meetings and zoning decisions and just plain cool for the rest of us. 12/19/13 2:35pm
Hello, Google? Is anyone listening out there? Can you put a project team on this?12/19/13 2:36pm
My economics training tells me that all this new residential and commercial space will help drive down the price of renting in NYC.
My real-life training tells me that this will not happen. 12/19/13 2:51pm
Yeaaaaah, you’d think that but I’m sure there’s such a demand for housing in the city that there’s really no way to actually get the supply to meet the demand and affect the pricing. Something something inelastic prices something something. 12/19/13 3:08pm
Your economic training is really poor. This isn’t some theory defying mysticism.12/19/13 3:15pm
A joint project between Sloan-Kettering and Hunter
Sigh. Meanwhile, Hunter and the rest of the City University system continue to raise tuition and move further and further away from their roots as free universities accessible to all New Yorkers… Pathetic. Disgusting. 12/19/13 2:37pm
I have to say, as a current Hunter student, I’m excited for the new building. Do you know how unbelievably crowded the Hunter campus is? How few resources we have? It’s exciting that we’re going to have access to new spaces and classes and opportunities. This will eventually be enormously beneficial for the Hunter community. 12/19/13 2:59pm
It’s sort of how all universities are going, though. All about the money and prestige. Tuition is always going to go up =/12/19/13 3:06pm
I still think Delta City looks better…look how white everything is!
I’d buy THAT for a dollar! 12/19/13 3:29pm
Plus that whole prison conversion thing.12/19/13 2:29pm
The Hudson Yards project is actually pretty cool. It will integrate improvements to the High Line walkway with accessible public spaces. The skyscrapers themselves will also look quite lovely, in my opinion.
Here’s a picture of one of the planned “sky garden” parks that will be built atop the High Line next to the development:
I am following this development closely and I think it will be very good for New York City as a whole. It’s not like other developments that are completely changing existing neighborhoods: they’re building basically everything on top of an old rail yard. 12/19/13 2:29pm
RIP Greenpoint. 😦 12/19/13 2:30pm
Earlier this year Mayor Bloomberg said this
“As bad as Sandy was, future storms could be even worse,” he said. “In fact, because of rising temperatures and sea levels, even a storm that’s not as large as Sandy could – down the road – be even more destructive.”
For a dude who believes catastrophic events around sea level are going to become more common over the years he sure is encouraging a whole lot of buildings at water level. 12/19/13 3:20pm
Good news for trustfunders and petrol dollar sheikhs, bad news for humans. 12/19/13 2:41pm
which involves teaching other cities to be more like New York
Ah, so these other cities are gonna price poor/working people out, privatize all their schools, and have their police forces randomly stop and search innocent men of color on the street? Awesome! Thanks Bloombito! 12/19/13 2:36pm
Most people living in any of NYC’s hotspots are foolishly obsessed with the lifestyle or the disgustingly wealthy. Oddly, the city has acquired a reputation as a tech center. But from what I’ve seen it’s mostly a bunch of rich investors keen on the prestige of having a New York address. Everyone I know who works in the city commutes in.
Prior to the economic downturn in 2008 I was noticing quite a lot of New Yorkers moving to Connecticut. If your work force has to travel 1 to 2 hours every day what’s the point of dumping a fortune on being located in the city? This, along with De Blasio’s promises, will likely result in a repeat of the 80s when there was a mass exodus of companies. It certainly would be a boon for Connecticut and New Jersey. 12/19/13 5:32pm
wonder if they’ll plan for rising waters.12/19/13 2:26pm
Sadly, that’s not the developer’s problem, so they won’t address it. To analogize, it’s like the financial crisis: companies (mortgage brokers=developers in this case) have an incentive to package incomplete, inexpensive products (sub-prime Mortgage-backed securities=low-lying coastal real estate developments) that are essentially time bombs. These time bombs will only explode well after they are off of the originators’ books. It is up to the consumer (banks=real estate companies or alternatively public advocates in the case of privately owned residential developments) to address these issues. In the case of the financial crisis, the banks repackaged the toxic assets and resold them to entities with even less foresight and institutional knowledge. I think that will be the ultimate result here.
“On the planning side there are multiple options for adaptation to sea level rise. The first is protection, which is what everybody calls the first line, which usually turns out only to be over the short to mid-term, that is 10 to maybe 100 year time scales. But if we want to have New York City around more than 500 years, that means we have to think about what the conditions will be 500 years from now. We need to think about how it is laid out in terms of the waterfront and elevation. Is it really built in a way that is sustainable? I would say absolutely not.”
This was my first thought. All of these don’t appear to have any planning for expected rises in water. A recent NatGeo article expects, at a conservative thought, ocean rises between 2 and 3 feet in New York by 2100. This is considering increased air temperature, increased water temperature, and a warming, shifting Gulf stream and Atlantic current. All these proposed structures appear to be right on the water. Might be time to start thinking about such things… 12/19/13 3:33pm
Right, because Sharknado 2 needs an excuse to place another CG ferris wheel in the middle of New York.
I’m a huge fan of both model and life-size railroads, I can’t wait for the entrainment complex in Willets Point to be done 🙂12/19/13 2:48pm
How about a Before and After picture of these areas? That would be awesome.
I am completely unfamiliar with any of these places as I have only briefly been through NYC on my way to NJ.12/19/13 3:24pm
Kelsey, interesting article.
BTW, although ‘entrainment’ is a real word, I think ‘entertainment’ is the one you are looking for. 12/19/13 3:48pm
But, it’s so far from the views you really want to see… 12/19/13 2:55pm
“…teach other cities to be more like New York…”
Hmmm… not really sure I’d want that.12/19/13 3:56pm
Hudson Yards looks like 3 huge light refracting tiki’s to me. 12/19/13 2:56pm
you forgot the cornell-technion project on roosevelt island 12/20/13 1:55am
RIP NYC 12/19/13 3:47pm
…./sigh 12/19/13 3:11pm
- Shades of Bloomberg in New York’s Next Housing Czar (nextcity.org)
- Bloomberg Rushes to Approve Billion-Dollar Projects Before Leaving Office (archdaily.com)
- The Billion-Dollar Megaprojects That Will Transform NYC By 2030 (gizmodo.com)
- The Billion-Dollar Megaprojects That Will Transform NYC By 2030 (gizmodo.com)
- Bloomberg: Pay-By-Phone Parking Headed To NYC (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Going Out With Building Boom, Mayor Pushes Billions in Projects (nytimes.com)
- New York Remade: Before and After Bloomberg (wnyc.org)
- Hudson Yards, Willets Point receive tax breaks (crainsnewyork.com)
- New NYC Mayor Worse Than Bloomberg? (americanfreepress.net)
- Planning commish Burden will join Bloomberg in private venture after term (therealdeal.com)