It's the 50th anniversary of New York landmarks law, so the city and Curbed are celebrating by covering the ripple effects of the legislation o' preservation from every angle possible. So is every publication in the city. New York magazine's archicritic Justin Davidson put nostalgia-loving preservationist Jeremiah Moss, of Vanishing New York, and new-development cheerleader Nikolai Fedak, of New York YIMBY, into a room and had them duke it out. What resulted is an amazing transcript that distills the major conflict underlying many of the city's real estate battles today. It's exactly not as cut-and-dried as preservation versus development, but the questions are legitimately worth grappling with. Should the city risk losing character, history, small businesses, and low-rises for the sake of higher living standards, taller buildings, more housing, and (ideally) lower price and rents? Read the debate in full, enjoy the highlights below, and leave your thoughts in the comments. Do you support Moss or Fedak?
From Moss, the pro-preservation camp:
If you put up walls of glass like the Avalon on Bowery, you lose all these little stores, and that changes the experience of walking. We also need to protect cultural institutions, places where people can make art and take dance lessons. That's being wiped away. That New York is under attack, and it needs to be protected. and
But the people who are coming back are bringing a suburban mentality. They want neighborhoods to be safe and predictable, and they want to live in a new condo with a grill on the roof that resembles the backyard they grew up in. So the question is: Is that a city anymore? and
...the idea that New York has to compete, that the city has to keep growing, that it has to be the best. That's a very corporate notion, and it's a foreign concept to me. If we just keep growing and competing and winning, where do we end up, ultimately? With a city filled, from borough to borough, with nothing but gleaming skyscrapers. And then the city will die. and
My apartment is a shithole. But I have to hold on to my shithole. I have to fight for my shithole. ... I don't want to accommodate more people. There are too many fucking people here already. And from the pro-development side, Fedak:
We should allow more residential construction across the board. That's where the demand is. Right now, some blocks in the Garment District are zoned for industrial use and don't allow permanent housing. Look, I know we want to preserve manufacturing in New York, but we have to live with the reality of a 21st-century economy, and manufacturing isn't coming back. and
What's changed is that people aren't leaving as much as they used to. That a good thing! We should be attracting as many people as possible. New York is one of the most vibrant cities on the planet, and you don't stay that way by turning people away. and
People from all income levels are valuable, and everyone should be coming to New York if they want to, whether they're poor or rich, and they should have humane housing. We have to compete globally, and we have a city that was built mostly before World War II, a lot of which is falling apart. and
There's room here for everyone if you build adequate housing for them. Prewar neighborhoods like the Upper West Side have buildings that don't meet the standards of 2015. Why should the poor live in such places in order to preserve the architecture? So, whose side are you on?
· Which New York Is Yours? A Fierce Preservationist and a Pro-Development Blogger Debate [NYM]
· All Landmarks coverage [Curbed]
· Preservation Watch/Preservation Battles archive [Curbed]