Now that we have entered what could be a very dry season compared to the building boom we’ve suddenly just found ourselves outside of, Nick Paumgarten began to wonder what New York is going to look like over the next few years in his piece “The Pits” in the latest issue of the New Yorker. It focuses on how the city won’t really change much at all, considering it still has a few big buildings and architectural marvels to being with, but pausing to take in a very still, resting skyline should be interesting. And what to do with all of the countless pits that developers quickly dug, only to see their plans fall apart (we have one of those here in Chicago in the form of Santiago Calatrava‘s Spire)? Â Paumgarten offers no real solution, but it’s a worthwhile thought for the next time you’re taking a long walk around the city and in a contemplative mood.
The real-estate boom fostered grand schemes, which, though they are in many cases now stillborn, began with holes in the ground. The expiration, earlier this year, of a tax-abatement law, 421-a, encouraged residential builders to dig quickly, to achieve grandfather status and thus better financing. Hence a sudden spate of new pits, some that builders may have had no intention of filling soon anyway. In some cases, if a developer hasn’t already paid for the steel, he will be inclined, or forced, to walk away. Buildings that are halfway built tend to get finished, although they may wind up being what are called “see-throughs.”