Manhattan’s iconic skyline could change dramatically within the next decade with new construction and planned projects rising high into the sky. Developers believe that the new construction is necessary to provide modern residential and office space while some residents see the new construction as a nuisance that will block viewing areas and strain already congested transit systems.
It’s no secret that many buildings in Manhattan are old. The average age of office properties along Park Avenue between Grand Central and Central Park is 45-years-old. Commercial developers argue that new space is needed to compete with the global market and high expectations from commercial tenants.
New office and residential towers are already replacing their former structures at a dramatic pace. World Trade Center 1 is nearly 40-stories tall, the Frank-Gehry designed Beekman tower has now reached its final height and a new residential tower is quickly rising along Central Park.
The desire for new construction was epitomized by the recent approval of a new office tower in Midtown at the site of the Hotel Pennsylvania. The new tower would rise almost as high as the nearby Empire State Building which has the building’s current owner worried about losing some of the landmark’s iconic views.
Another obstacle to new construction is that higher density projects will put additional strain on the city’s already burdened transit network. Developers are often promising transit upgrades in their building proposals but higher density can only mean longer commutes in a city where commute times already average 35 minutes or more.
The recession has put a kink in redevelopment plans as rents at top of the line buildings are still off 20 to 30 percent from their peaks and many new projects in Midtown and Lower Manhattan are waiting for financing to proceed. However once the market rebounds, developers are likely to start working on ambitious projects that will continue to change Manhattan’s iconic skyline.