With the events unfolding in the Middle East indicating a significant shift in the power of the people to alter things around them through their access to communications that are not easily controlled by governments and those in power, I started to think on how here in Manhattan this power is affecting real estate development too.
As recently as ten years ago, a developer would design a building, submit the plans to the Community Boards….maybe the press would print a picture, and maybe there would be a small up-rising if the community disagreed with the plans….and then the plans would be slightly modified and approved by the City. These days the order has changed. Yes, the Community Boards still have to meet, and probably are met with the same attendence. But now with electronic and social media with it’s ability to disseminate information away from the control of the few newspapers or an e-mail list, the exposure to ‘secretive’ planning has widened dramatically, and has shifted the power of what will and won’t get built rather dramatically. The blog CURBED, for instance, has done more to educate New Yorkers about the going’s on in real estate than any other entity, ever.
This is a good thing. It raises awareness of a much wider group of people and applies pressure on developers to design better buildings that serve communities and neighborhoods better. Building a truly hideous building today is significantly more difficult to do than it was 10 years ago. And it will become even more difficult. While many developers decry this, they should indeed be celebrating this phenmomena: better designed buildings sell and rent for more, increase the value of the neighborhoods they are built in and thereby escalate in value surer, and faster. This wider exposure should not slow down development, only if bad development is presented. Those against all development do indeed need to move far, far away, as they are defying the laws of nature. Evolution is.
This new world order may just end up benefitting everyone.