Note — Feb 24, 2019

Super-Tall, Super-Skinny, Super-Expensive: the ‘Pencil Towers’ of New York’s Super-Rich

There are three phases to reading this piece. First you [redacted] a bit in your mouth at the obscene prices and entitlement. Then you start contemplating the almost scifi-novel levels of privilege and how the projects feel exactly like first stage cloud-high Altered Carbon Meth towers. But then you stay for the darkly fascinating way in which these developers twist the letter of the law, disregard its spirit, and snake their way between air rights, floor area ratios, and other rules to get their projects built while bypassing the public review process.

A heady confluence of engineering prowess, zoning loopholes and an unparalleled concentration of personal wealth have together spawned a new species of super-tall, super-skinny, super-expensive spire. […]

Like leggy plants given too much fertiliser, these buildings are a symptom of a city irrigated with too much money. The world’s population of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, a super-elite with assets of at least $30m, has now mushroomed beyond 250,000 people, all in need of somewhere to store their wealth. More than a third of them are based in North America, while those from riskier economic climes favour New York real estate as one of the safest places to park their cash. […]

Sitting alongside rare wine, coloured diamonds and old masters, a full-floor apartment in a pencil tower with a view of Central Park makes a fine addition to the investor’s trophy cabinet. Except it is not just a trinket in a safe. It is a very large presence on the skyline for all to endure. […]

What makes the economy go is the fact there isn’t a discretionary review of everything.