Forget ‘machine for living in’ – Hudson Yards is a machine for investing in

(THE GUARDIAN) Samuel Stein, September 9, 2021

The developers of Hudson Yards, a multi-towered mega-project sprouting upward from the far west side of Manhattan, would like us to believe that its phase-one opening on Friday will be a milestone in New York City history. Many supportive city planners would agree. Perhaps they are right, but not for reasons worth celebrating.New York’s Hudson Yards is an ultra-capitalist Forbidden CityHamilton NolanRead more

Developers call Hudson Yards “the largest private development in the history of the United States”, and boast that it includes the city’s most expensive office building as well as 14 other high-rises. Calling Hudson Yards a private development, however, is a half-truth.

Hudson Yards is being built by two firms, Related and Oxford Property Group; while Related is a standard developer, Oxford is the real estate arm of the Ontario municipal workers’ pension fund. The developers say the project costs $15bn, but that doesn’t seem to take into account the $5.6bn in public expenditures already spent or committed to the project. It is financed through a Tax Increment Finance-like scheme that relies on public bonding, it was enabled by a Bloomberg-era rezoning, and it has been in city planners’ sights since at least the 1960s. The entire complex is being built atop public infrastructure – the rail yards – and the elaborate platforms that enable its construction are owned by the Metropolitan Transit Agency.