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The 10 Most Controversial Real Estate Stories of 2014

It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighborhood universes of New York City! Yep, it's time for the 11th Annual Curbed Awards!

There are certain aspects of New York City real estate that always seem to inspire healthy debate, by which we mean frothing, punctuation-less rants in the comments section. Those aspects are gentrification, affordable housing, and gentrification. Here now, we present to you the ten most commented-upon Curbed posts of the past year. This year, they serve mainly to remind us of a simpler time, before we started requiring commenters to register accounts. A simpler, angrier, exceedingly hostile time, during which the words "moocher," "hipsters," and "David Dinkens" [sic] were thrown around with alarming regularity.

Things are better now.

10) "Public Enemy No. 1"
When some rich Canadian lady wrote an op-ed for the Post complaining that she has been vilified for being a foreign New York City pied-a-terre owner (on 57th Street, no less), the result was...probably what everyone involved had in mind. "[O]h honey," wrote the first of over 100 commenters, "don't feed the trolls." Still, props to her for coining the term "pied-a-terrorist" and for the sentence that reads, "We are walking wallets—and we just want to have fun."

9) Spike Lee Delivers Epic Anti-Gentrification Rant
"Then comes the motherfuckin' Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can't discover this! We been here," filmmaker Spike Lee told an audience at Pratt Institute back in February during his epic anti-gentrification rant. Apparently, some Curbed commenters disagreed with him, and chimed in with counter-arguments such as "So if the Knicks are gentrified will spike continue to attend the games." Then some other commenters disagreed with the first round of commenters know how this works.

8) Look At These NYC Storefronts Pre- and Post-Gentrification
As Spike can tell you, few things get New Yorkers riled up quite like gentrification#8212;in the comments section of a post from March that juxtaposed pictures of the old East Village with pictures of the new East Village, the classic point/counterpoint of Poor Neighborhoods Smell Bad/You Have No Soul played out over 118 comments. Representative example: "go hug a tree hippie."

7) Isn't It Ironic
When Brooklyn blogger Montrose Morris was "priced out" of Brooklyn, the ensuing New York Times piece resulted in a Curbed comment thread that started off unpleasant, with attacks against Morris, and went downhill from there. "This is the most depressing thread I've ever seen on curbed," the 25th commenter said. (Final tally: 119 comments.) "Over 100 comments over one blog about a Brooklyn blogger," wrote number 105, "who says Brooklynites are self-involved."

6) Lifestyles of the Rent-Stabilized
When an Upper West Side building drew heat for shutting its rent-stabilized tenants out of the gym and other amenity spaces, dozens of political theorists flooded the comments section to decry the practice of rent regulation. At least, that's what it started out as. After the first page, we're not entirely sure what's going on.

5) Affordable Housing Wire
As divisive an issue as rent regulation is, it's no wonder that another small post about Mayor de Blasio's goal of building or preserving 200,000 new affordable housing units in New York City over the next decade resulted in 136 comments, most along the lines of: "Get ready for vandalism and misconduct with the trash removal that they would never commit in their private 'nonprimary' homes not because they are poorer than their neighbors because they have been given the opportunity and the power to complain at no cost to themselves." "This thread is just begging Curbed to start requiring registration by commenters," one of the only non-anonymous contributors wrote, presciently.

4) Manhattan Rents Plateau As Gap With Brooklyn Narrows
Just an average rental market report in March reignited the age-old Manhattan vs. Brooklyn rivalry. Did a narrowing price gap mean that Kings County would soon be equal to "The City"? Not if the majority of the 138 comments had anything to say about it. "The only reason to ever have lived there was cheap rent," said one commenter. "Sure some of the close in areas have their charms but crossing that river every morning must be humbling." Another retorted: "It's just sad when the Manhattanites get so defensive. Starting to feel like the last man standing, huh? I hate to break it you you, but Manhattan feels much more suburban now than Brooklyn does." And so on.

3) Affordable Housing Wire
Oh, good, another affordable housing one. In March, a coalition of about 50 tenants groups came out with a report that showed a growing need for housing aimed at families of four making less than $41,000 a year and OH, THE HUMANITY.

2) De Blasio Throws a Wrench In Two Trees' Domino Plans
The first practical application of de Blasio's affordable housing policy came in February when he entered into a standoff with Domino developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees, demanding that Walentas throw an additional 50,000 square feet of dedicated affordable housing into the megaproject. Walentas bluffed, threatening to revert back to an unpopular old plan, but ultimately blinked first and acquiesced. And, yeah...people had some thoughts about that.

1) Robert A.M. Stern's 220 Central Park South Tower, Revealed!
Amazingly, the commented-on post of the year had nothing to do with affordable housing or gentrification (well, actually, it had a lot to do with both of those things, just not directly). It came when renderings of Vornado's 220 Central Park South, famed architect Robert A.M. Stern's contribution to the canyon of megatowers, were leaked. Over 200 people weighed in (or one person, commenting over 200 times—who ever knows) with opinions ranging from "Holy. Shit." to "Vulgar. Shit."