“The Bronx is Burning” In the 1970s, few could have imagined what New York would end up looking like. With Starbucks on every corner and skyscraper luxury towers, it’s literally an area known as Billionaire’s Row.
Gentrification has been particularly hot in the last two decades. For a chronicle of how the city’s transformation took place and the colorful personalities that drove it, “New York’s New Kings: Traitors, Strongmen, Gamblers, and a Remake of the World’s Most Famous Skyline” (The Real Deal) by Adam Piore.
“The pandemic has been devastating for small business owners, but those owners aren’t the ones who buy condos in places like Time Warner Center, 15 Central Park West, and One 57. During the pandemic. , a lot of people made a lot of money — in May 2022, Oxfam published a report pointing out that as Covid surged, a new billionaire was created every 30 hours.” Piolet says. “And New York City real estate is still the ultimate in comfort. That’s why ultra-luxury property sales skyrocketed in the second half of 2021, making him the city’s most traded in five years.”
We asked Piolet to select five buildings that best represent the transformation of the city in the 21st century. please look.
time warner center
It all started at the Columbus Circle complex. Piole describes it as an “influential building”. Because he was one of the “first examples where expensive real estate with park views was the ultimate comfort,” as well as driving Manhattan’s malling.
When plans for the complex were finalized in the late 1990s, Columbus Circle was a gritty No Man’s Land inhabited by prostitutes, the homeless and drug dealers. The state that controlled the Coliseum, a derelict convention center, chose her five finalists in 1997 for reconstruction.
Among them was Donald Trump, the developer who opened the building across the street. According to the book, Donald brought his trademark rage, but interrupted his pitch to officials to get a call from Bryant Gumbel, who was seeking divorce advice.
The deal went to veteran developer and Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross. Ross had a vision of a high-end facility with retail on the bottom floor and luxury living on the top floor.
“People thought he was crazy. They thought malls didn’t work,” says Piole.
But the developer knew that luxury brands and cuisine would attract interest, so he secured Mandarin Oriental, the world’s top hotel name, as an anchor tenant and brought in a world-famous chef to open the restaurant. rice field.
The Time Warner Center, now called the Deutsche Bank Center, opened in 2004.
“People were happy that New York was back, had less crime, and had all these amenities,” says the author.
15 Central Park West
The 35-story opulent tower adjacent to the park has become known as one of Manhattan’s wealthiest addresses, home to residents such as Denzel Washington and Alex Rodriguez. Located in what used to be a hotel, it was developed by Lee Seckendorf, brothers of a powerful real estate family, Arthur and William.
The family owned the brokerage firm Brown Harris Stevens, which gave them access to field data that other developers couldn’t. They sensed a growing demand for ultra-high net worth housing.
The brothers also learned from previous site developments to ditch the co-op and its notoriously demanding board and build condos instead. All you needed to get in was a lot of money.
“It was a decision that helped spark a wave of no-question deals by the ultra-rich buyers who would come to rule Manhattan,” the authors wrote.
Developers purchased the Central Park West 15 site in 2004 for a whopping $401 million.
They finally got it — and some. The deals closed in 2006 and 2007 broke records.
And in 2011, a Russian fertilizer billionaire named Dmitry Rybolovlev paid $88 million to buy an apartment in the building for his college-aged daughter.
The deal marked the most expensive apartment purchase in the city’s history at the time and “wrote havoc” on the market, says Piolet.
“These sites around the park suddenly exploded,” says the authors. [for the developers] It was to be built for the ultra-rich. ”
One57 is a 75-story blue glass hotel and condo built by Gary Barnett. But it was, as rival developer Steve Ross sniped in the book, “a tasteless” “ugly f-ing building”.
“It was the first large-scale construction after the Lehman Shock. [in 2008]’ says Piolet. “After the bank was frozen, it was backed by foreign money that allowed Burnett to build it. Many followed that business model.”
Burnett also had the idea of building from the inside out by imagining every plethora of amenities the ultra-rich might want and designing the interior around them first.
“Then he went to the architect and said, ‘Here, do something about this,'” says the author. “It’s a pretty ugly building and you have to see it from the park.”
Critics criticized not only what the building represented, but also its design.
“People were so annoyed with One57 that when Bill de Blasio became president, they tried to build a homeless shelter next door,” says Piole.
The shelter opened last year after years of legal battles.
The 50-story tower at 322 West 57th Street “shows the battle between landlords and tenants,” says Piole. It was purchased by developer Kent His Swig and his partner in 2005 with the intention of converting the rental building into condominiums. But Swig soon ran into problems with his 95 units (out of 845), including rent-stable tenants.
Residents were expecting big payouts, as other building tenants got, including the rumored $1 million that three diehard resisters earned in the 15 Central Park West conversion. Swig and his partners dug in and offered little concessions to the tenants. Tennants quickly rose to their feet and launched protests, including sidewalk protests in April 2007. His Swig caught wind of the action and hired a large marching band, which he played for four hours, drowning out the protesters.
But the protesters will have the last laugh.
“They eventually delayed construction and when [the 2008 financial crash] The building wasn’t finished,” says Piole. The project took such a toll on Swig’s relationship with his partners that at one meeting in 2008, Swig’s investors reportedly hit him with an ice bucket.
The building was sold to an investment group in a 2009 foreclosure auction, leaving Swig in trouble — at least for a while. At one point, Swig receives a call from a bank employee requesting a meeting. Swig showed up expecting the worst, but he got the banker to hand over his credit card and suggested he go to Trader Joe’s nearby to buy groceries.
The authors say the sprawling mixed-use complex in Manhattan’s West End functions like a second Gilded Age bookend. “When Time Warner came out, people loved it,” he says. “By the time we got here, hyper-gentrification was out of control and there was a complete backlash.”
The first phase began in 2019, with then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo apparently absent from the lavish kickoff ceremony. “Nobody wanted to be seen there,” says the author.
The complex quickly came to represent all the bad things about Manhattan direction. The mall was filled with global luxury brands and the housing was out of reach of the average New Yorker. Developer Steve Ross was forced to pour so much money into building the project that the only way to recoup his investment was to cater to millionaires and millionaires. .
“People described Hudson Yards as turning its back on the city, and it was this vision of a gated community for the super-rich,” says Piole.
The authors say that the last 20 years don’t necessarily define the next few years, and that things are “moving little by little.”
“Thoughtful people are working on ways to overcome this problem,” he says.
Solutions could include building more affordable housing and closing money laundering loopholes so that the wealthy cannot easily deposit their money in real estate.
“The city has always gone through cycles,” says Piolet. “And it will do so again.”