Who is John Galt? New York Residents block construction of new Empire State Building-Sized skyscraper

October 7th, 2009

From CBS 2 in New York:

Imagine a building as tall as the Empire State Building on a lot that size. That’s what the developers want to do. It would twice as tall as the landmarked (and quite beautiful) CBS corporate headquarters across the street and the neighbors said that’s quite tall enough.

“It’s a postage stamp. They say they can get it to stand up but it’s a postage stamp. It’s an abomination,” opponent Justin Peyser said.

I love progress. If these residents opposed to this construction could think outside of their protectivist mindsets, they would reaalize what an economic boon this could bring to midtown, an area like many other areas, that has suffered of late. The opposition to construction is bordering on Luditism and incenses me. If the opposition was based on a objective basis; that is the building will be a safety hazard, the building owner has no prospect of renting it, the building owner is financially suspect and many not finish it; the building owner demands public subsidies; etc. Any of these reasons are valid objections. But not liking it simply because it is an “abomination” and may cast some shadows? Who is John Galt?

As much as I love Washington, D.C., I become disgusted whenever I see the federally restrained skyline. According to the Heights of Building Act, buildings in downtown D.C. cannot be more than “20 feet (6 m) higher than the width of the adjacent street.” Contrary to popular belief, it is not pegged to the height of the Washington Monument or the Capitol, but the effect is the same. Those are still the tallest buildings Downtown.

Can you imagine how much cheaper living in D.C. would be if buildings could grow above 12 or 13 floors (the usual limit)? Commercial leases would be less. More businesses could be located in the Nation’s capitol. Because I loathe most business in Washington, restricting the influence of businesses on the Capitol may be an unintended positive consequence, and may in some level reduce rent-seeking. To that extent, I like the result, but I don’t like the means.