The Real Deal New York

NYT critic gets heat for touting more public review for towers

December 26, 2013 02:02PM

If city agencies and community groups were granted more authority on air rights transfers for all new skyscrapers, it would unnecessarily add more hurdles to the approvals process, writes Reuters finance journalist Felix Salmon.

Salmon’s column was directed at New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman and other writers who advocated limiting the role of private builders and expanding the public review component in the construction of tall buildings in New York City.

“Skyscrapers are a perfect emblem of capitalism — they destroy what came before, in order to create something new,” Salmon wrote. “Sometimes the change is for the better, and sometimes it’s for the worse — but a city where nothing new gets built is a dead city, which might have nostalgic value to tourists, but which is never going to be a driver of global commerce.”

Air rights acquisitions that are carried out through a zoning lot merger are currently not subject to public scrutiny.

Kimmelman also backed a requirement that developers “give something back” in exchange for permission to buy these air rights, such as affordable housing and contributions to transit improvements. He pointed to One57 as an example of what’s wrong – but Salmon said he is also not a fan of the Extell Development tower.

“Better we have a living city with a couple of less-than-perfect buildings, than a stifled one governed by nostalgists and Nimbys,” Salmon wrote. [Reuters]Mark Maurer

  • I-Rock

    1. There is a housing shortage in NYC and implementing some of Kimmelman’s concepts would make it even more expensive and challenging for developers which only adds the crisis. 2. Not every new development using air rights is a condo for the russian billionaires. 3. Many 80/20 development’s have been constructed using transferable development rights than have created affordable housing. 4. These 57th street towers are obnoxious looking and targeted to the “euro-trash” billionaires. old money would be embarrassed walking in to the lobby.

  • Concerned broker

    T-Rock I disagree with your that putting in some “benefits” for the community and the far less fortunate will make it more expensive for developers. Especially when you consider that one of the apartments at One57 had an asking price of $100 million — just one apartment of the many apartments that the building holds. Developers make substantial profits from this city while they destroy the city to suit their greed and they go home to their mansions in the burbs leaving the rest of us who chose to live here to suffer their greed and inconsideration. I agree with Kiimmelman. If you take something you should give something back in return. Don’t forget the tax breaks and the other benefits they are getting. Some of those “advantages” cost the poor working stiff who is subsidizing those “benefits” to allow those people to become gazillionaires on the backs of the working poor. Where did our conscience go? And isn’t it time we stop trying to fool the general public and do the right and fair thing?

  • Concerned NYer

    It always amazes me how these greedy developers are always complaining about the high cost of doing business in this city while they feed off the tax benefits and the bonds that are floated at the taxpayers expense. Yes developer’s should give something back for the benefits they are getting. We all have a responsibility to this city to take care of those who live and work here. That is what makes the city great. Take a lot give a little back. Isn’t that the religious way? I see all these developers going to temple holding up the temple door but greed is their main objective. Shame Shame Shame

    • Niv21

      What ever happened to capitalism and the free markets?? It’s a shame people wants to put shackles on every industry with so much regulations. It’s harder to make any kind of $$ in this current atmosphere. Our country is slowly turning into a socialism. If you want our country to take care of the less fortunate, I suggest we go back in time and lose the Cold War with the soviets and become communists and call NY, New Moscow, or maybe we don’t have to go back in time and we all should just move to China.

    • David

      Nice statement from such a Jew Hater. Likely you are just a bitter jealous moron that can’t stand when you see the successful hard working Jew with the pretty girl when all you have is your right hand named after a girl or maybe you named your hand “Paul Lynde”.You want communism? Please take a one way ticket to Cuba and crash on the way. Filthy Pig.

  • David

    Communism never tires in its thirst for control. This kimmelman is a troll. Another little monkey screeching we all must do this and that. Unfortunately much of NYC is full of communists just like this bum. He probably lives on the UWS & gets an orgasm everytime he walks into Zabars, starbucks or fairway.