My piece in this past weekend's New York Times explores a project whose developer claims to be gaining by selling jumbo-sized apartments in a neighborhood for well-heeled transients.
A story in the current Architect's Newspaper explains how a young developer (and onetime colleague from my days in community development) adapts to Manhattan's real estate market and the government's real estate policy. The story's only readable in print, but you can contact the paper for a copy.
I've started as business editor and green-economy correspondent at the Faster Times, a new Web newspaper worth getting to know. I'll be posting and editing fearless journalists there every day.
A recent report in the Architect's Newspaper explaining how the state, sorely needing big and wise transit investment, goes day to day without transit leaders.
Aging, food panic, water shortages. Or taste, neighborliness, natural joy. Something is driving developers to build and sell subdivisions around organic farms rather than around golf courses, as my story in the New York Times chronicles.
Developers love transportation, or whatever else Washington calls "free money" this year. Yesterday I saw a ballroomful of New York real estate players cascade applause when federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood promised a range of incentives and programs to "get people out of their cars." Granted, real estate types have heard rather too few applause lines in recent months. But this liplock between development and transit is as vital as it is real. See, properties can gain value over the medium to long term if prospective tenants can easily get to them, get away from them, and use them as bases in their mobile lives. And the Obama administration is boosting this philosophy with serious capital. HUD grants, as I'll write more about this summer, will privilege projects near public transit. And the tax code will stoke more big transit investment in big cities. To take one marginal example, look to page 82 of a document the Treasury Department released on Monday.
There you'll find a proposal to scrap tax incentives to private developers in Lower Manhattan and allocate $200m per year over the next decade for transit investments around the World Trade Center site. $2 billion is a nice round figure, roughly the shortfall facing Moynihan Station and probably a useful plug at Ground Zero. But this reflects a policy that transcends Gotham development delays. This administration- and probably its corollary Congressfolk looking to deliver jobs and cut ribbons- believes the growth zones in our country are at transit hubs and not in ranch-house tracts. If you see a developer singing the praises of the local trolley, follow that developer.
If yesterday's Times' analysis bears out and most Americans come out of this recession saving more and spending less, then today's Times story about venture funds favoring energy efficiency deserves a serious read. The premise: startups can grow profitable by teaching people how to use their appliances more intelligently. The unstated corollary: the government should be the force nourishing the market for alternative energy. While we consumers learn how much we can control our carbon-burning habits, that is, we taxpayers should be investing in the power lines and computer code that make our energy menu greener and broader. In that spirit, I'm curious how the various sign-up programs around the country that let households choose renewable energy fare. If we're learning to take firmer care of what we already have, will that make it easier for the audacious or the affluent to help build a wiser energy system?