ERFA’s president, Alan Kersh, was recently featured in an article on Creators.com. It looks at the response to megatowers in cities across the country and why it is so important for communities to be in charge of the future of their neighborhoods.The article was also picked up under another headline by HeraldNet. Here are a few snippets:
Creators: Don’t Bury Our Cities in Megatowers
Michael Mehaffy, an architectural critic based in Portland, Oregon, has likened super-tall residential buildings to vertical gated communities cut off from the neighbors far below. Furthermore, the buildings are often half empty.
That’s because these ultra-expensive spaces are being marketed to a global elite seeking a safe place to stash their money. Billions are pouring in from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Latin America.
Here’s how Alan Kersh, president of the East River Fifties Alliance (a group fighting the Sutton Place megatower), sums up the raw deal: “The neighborhood is being ripped up for foreign owners who may fly in for a couple of days and just want to have a safe deposit box in the sky.”
Much of the money flowing into this super-expensive real estate is dirty — all-cash deals using shell companies. The buyers’ identities are hidden. A concerned U.S. Treasury Department is starting to track these purchasers.
Developers look for “soft” building sites. In older residential areas, such as Sutton Place, that means demolishing the tenements and five-story walkups where people of modest means still live. When the Sutton 58 developer is done, 80 families will be displaced.
The theme this campaign season is ordinary Americans’ wanting their power back. That should extend to politics on the very local level. Residents have a right to determine the destiny of their neighborhoods.