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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

New York's New Millionaire Ghetto


It is the most expensive real estate project in US history: The Hudson Yards, New York's new skyscraper district, will open with a ceremony. The city needs anything but more luxury apartments.



It was the last desert in New York City. Eleven hectares of fallow land in the middle of the metropolis - siding, depots, weeds, scrap. The vacant lot cut the heart of Manhattan off the piers of the Hudson River for more than 150 years. It's a miracle that they didn't populate the windy no man's land earlier in this metropolis, where every square meter counts.



Many ideas were rejected. A football stadium. An Olympic village. A new World Trade Center. Even Donald Trump - then half the age of now - wanted to tear down "America's Greatest Land" as "Trump City". But nothing was possible.

And now that: seven skyscrapers, nine more in the works, a viewing terrace at 335 meters high, two million square meters of office and living space, a luxury shopping mall, posh restaurants, parks, walk-in monumental art and a cultural center, the facade and roof of which are mounted on giant steel wheels let it roll away.


This Friday, after 13 years of planning and seven years of construction, the first phase of the Hudson Yards opens, as they called the artificial quarter for better marketing. In the end, it will cost $ 25 billion - the most expensive private real estate project in US history.

There are endless superlatives: city within city. Modern Oz. Bigger than the UN headquarters, bigger than the former Ground Zero, bigger than the Rockefeller Center - the urban icon with which you often compare the Hudson Yards.

The neighbors: Gucci, Rolex, Cartier - KKR, Blackrock, Wells Fargo

But while the elegance of the around 80-year-old Rockefeller Center still makes you awesome, the Hudson Yards are, at least in their current form, at best as an Instagram motif. But they leave the soul cold, especially the social needs - especially in New York, which needs anything but another playground for millionaires.

Rejecting, inaccessible and with its back to Manhattan, the skyscraper enclave is a fortress for one-percenters. The 4000 luxury apartments are equipped with the usual ostentation: eucalyptus wood, Caravaggio marble, quartzite counters. The investment companies KKR and Blackrock, the major bank Wells Fargo, L'Oréal and CNN have already signed up as commercial tenants. The mall serves the same clientele - with luxury brands such as Dior, Gucci, Rolex, Cartier and Tiffany.

In a city where housing shortages are dire and more than 64,000 people are homeless, the Hudson Yards is a monument to failed local politics - subsidized by the city, with nearly $ 6 million in tax breaks. This is what happens when you relinquish planning to a multi-billionaire and then leave it completely free.

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