Back to the future

The 19th century philosopher Kierkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

The statement applies to both the start of a new year and the January issue of The Real Deal, in which we thoroughly try to understand what the future of New York real estate holds as well as glance back at the year that was.

One of our cover stories this month deals with what the city will look like in a time that’s not too far off — the year 2026.

It’s a familiar place, but different enough to be interesting: Midtown East as the new hotspot for giant office skyscrapers and Brooklyn as the center of the city’s tech scene. Expect a wall of towers lining the waterfront in the outer boroughs, as well as more parks constructed over old infrastructure, like the High Line. Plus — dare we say — buildings that are built on the water and driverless cars. Meanwhile, building technology will change considerably in the near future, too. Skyscrapers in New York that break the 2,000-foot barrier are coming (thanks to stronger reinforced concrete). And building facades that can change according to the weather will also become more commonplace (like the retractable roof on a sports stadium or car). It’s a brave new world indeed.

Outside of reading the tea leaves, we’ve also got plenty of in-depth stories about the present-day real estate market. We take a look at the onsite brokers selling the city’s priciest new condo buildings, who often fly under the radar. We also explore the rivalry between several new pioneering Brooklyn office complexes. And check out our ranking of the sovereign wealth funds that are spending the most on real estate — the numbers are already big and expected to rise.

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Finally, a look back at our most-read stories of the year shows what you, the reader, found most compelling. It was a mix of articles that appeared in our monthly issue as well as content that only ran online. The list features lots of coverage of cutting-edge companies, rankings of the biggest real estate players and the largest deals and in-depth examinations of the overall market.

Perhaps fittingly, considering his place in the national spotlight right now, our most-read story of 2015 was actually a story that we ran two years earlier, about Donald Trump’s net worth and what he really owns (the answer is a bit messy, but it was a compelling examination by reporter Katherine Clarke). The list below does not include annual rankings or online stories from earlier years, some of which are still incredibly popular reads. Take some time to sit down and dive into everything you’ve missed.

The most viewed stories of 2015:

1. What does Donald Trump really own? (July 2013 issue)
2. Will WeWork survive the next downturn? (June 10 online)
3. Kushners launch real estate investing platform (March 24 online)
4. When will the boom break? (April issue)
5. Manhattan’s top residential agents (July issue)
6. The dirt on NYC’s soaring land values (April issue)
7. Zillow’s erroneous Zestimates (March issue)
8. Joe Sitt’s Thor pays $800M for massive rental portfolio (Jan. 5 online)
9. Can Blackstone’s RE business keep growing? (Aug. 25 online)
10. How much demand exists for uber-luxury condos? (June 22 online)
11. $100M One57 penthouse buy breaks NYC record (Jan. 16 online)
12. How much does Airbnb impact rents in NYC? (Oct. 14 online)
13. The Bronx feeding frenzy (November issue)
14. How Stuy Town was won (Oct. 29 online)
15. NYC’s biggest brokerage firm ranking (May issue)
16. The world according to WeWork (December issue)
17. The year of the Chinese investor (March issue)
18. Real estate’s rising stars (April issue)
19. What a Chinese developer’s default means for NYC (Aug. 23 online)
20. The property moguls dominating Deal, NJ (August issue)

Here’s to 2016.

Enjoy the issue and the New Year!