Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Condopocalypse Now

Back in January, The American Prospect was all about The Post-Boom City. I just got around to it. In her essay "Gentrification Hangover," writer Alyssa Katz discusses "how New York could create affordable housing from its empty glass condo buildings and failed takeover projects."

Some excerpts:

"Commuters arriving in Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge are greeted with a shiny vision of New York City's future that never came to be: condo buildings with names like the Oro, the Toren, and Forté, towering monuments to real-estate developers' credit-bubble hubris..."

"On the opposite sidewalk of Flatbush Avenue one drizzly fall evening, more than a hundred demonstrators, members of the Right to the City Coalition, drew attention to another possibility: A city starved for affordable housing could find it in the glassy confines of failed luxury dreams..."

"New York City made the Scarface mistake: It got high on its own supply."

photo by Lori Nix

Remember back in October 2007, when New York offered its "Doomsday Primer"? They commissioned artist Lori Nix to do these photographed dioramas of abandoned condo towers and Wall Street offices, and we fantasized about the "condo-pocalypse."

Who imagined we would be there in just a couple years? The article in American Prospect might give us hope, but Katz has some words of warning:

"Bloomberg is unlikely to concede that his coddling of luxury developers has only deepened the city's perpetual housing crisis. Nor has his administration rid housing-subsidy programs of their fatal flaw: They eventually expire. Most of the affordable housing New York City has been building under Bloomberg won't be affordable anymore by 2030. Even the condos the city hopes to turn into middle-income residences will eventually revert to top-shelf prices."


EV Grieve said...

I never did understand how a billionaire could understand the concept of affordable.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Bloomberg should try a little experiment by living a month on $800-$1200 and see how he fares. Maybe then he'll understand how it feels to sacrifice groceries for a metrocard.

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg made his own fortune. Ergo, he "understands" any concept related to money, including whatever the word "affordable" means, much better than you or me. Sorry. Just because you don't like some (all?) of his policies, doesn't mean he doesn't "understand" the concept of subsidized housing.

cityofstrangers said...


Thanks for the article (I'm about 3/4 through and will print out and finish the rest today). Says a lot about NY now, and how it got that way, including the dramatic change in the last couple of years in the kind of person inhabiting the city.

Question is: where will all this go? In my little corner of Bed-Stuy some dozen condos sit empty - some half-finished, open to the elements. Gentrification marches on in this area (for a good part of this city, it seems, this is no recession at all), so perhaps they'll fill up, but perhaps not. What then?