When “White Christmas” was written in 1942, Irving Berlin had good reason to yearn for the snows “just like the ones [he] used to know.” Measurements of the white stuff in Manhattan had been slumping since the late 1800s, with the 15-year rolling median of 35.5 inches from 1884 falling to a mere 15.6 inches by the year of the song’s release, and then plunging further, to only 13.4 inches in 1998-99. What has followed is nothing short of a holiday miracle: in the subsequent eighteen years, snowfall has increased in an unprecedented fashion across much of the Northeastern seaboard, with the rolling median at Central Park now reaching 40 inches. With New York City’s median recent snowfalls tripling in a matter of two decades and surpassing totals at the end of the Little Ice Age at the same time that temperatures have continued to warm, it is time for the city’s inhabitants to ask why exactly this is happening, and consider the practical implications that a rapidly-shifting climate will have on real estate.
Last month, YIMBY broke the story for a major site to be developed at 115 River Road, in Edgewater, New Jersey. While we initially reported the address at 615 River Road, that was incorrect; however, the developer of 615 River Road has now filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, alleging that a series of “corrupt transactions” led to the Borough’s vote to seize the property by eminent domain back in September, in a secret a bid to transfer the lot to developer Fred Daibes, who is behind 115 River Road.
New York City has a problem. As local politicians have consolidated their grip on power over the past several decades, many have become increasingly prone to serving specific groups of constituents instead of overarching ideals, noble, or otherwise. The Five Boroughs are no stranger to this kind of issue, with periods of historical stagnancy well-documented. But with electoral participation at staggeringly delegitimizing lows, local leaders like Gale Brewer will easily cruise to re-election. Amidst a backdrop of surging NIMBYism that is now more than glad to co-opt the tactics of Fake News, the outlook for the next few years on election day is rather bleak, as the politics of New York’s inward-looking regressive leaders will put up far greater barriers to entry than any potential wall along the Mexican border.
New York City’s real estate industry has seen several new phenomena over the past decade, with the rise of the supertalls perhaps the most visible on the overall skyline. But across neighborhoods like the Garment District, Chelsea, and the peripheral fringes of Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn, the hospitality boom has been the most notable happening, with parking garages and warehouses rapidly disappearing in favor of new hotels. Now, City Planning hopes to put a damper on the rush, with a proposed zoning amendment that would force any new hotels in M-1 zones to go through a special permitting process.
Technology and urbanity have a long and tempestuous relationship, with the former’s advancement over the past century having had an occasionally deleterious effect on the latter. This has been most evident when periods of previously unimaginable progress have yielded inventions like the automobile, which in turn led to the temporary collapse of many inner cities. Now, as online retail continues to outpace brick and mortar shopping, technology has once again laid siege to the fabric of New York City, threatening the time-honored local bodega, and potentially undermining a segment of local retail that has value far beyond its shelves.