The Suitcase Lady


November 12, 2019, 8:11 pm

The phrase “getting high” has taken on a new meaning. In the true American spirit of pushing everything to extremes, the tallest residential building in the world just was completed in New York City.

The building sits on “Billionaire’s Row” on West 57th Street and is called Central Park Tower. At 131 floors and 1550 feet, it’s the latest in an epidemic of tall, skinny residential towers that now pierce the midtown Manhattan skyline like giant pencils.

No ordinary mortal could ever take up residence in these exclamation points. Prices in this latest and tallest edition range from a low of 6.9 million to 63 million for a 5 bedroom full-floor unit. The total sales value of Central Park Tower will be 4.4 billion dollars, making it the most expensive residential building in the city.

The Guardian newspaper describes these buildings as “a symptom of a city irrigated with too much money. The world’s population of ultra-high-net-worth individuals….has mushroomed to 250,000 people, all in need of somewhere to store their wealth. More than a third of them are from North America, while those from riskier economic climes favour New York real estate as one of the safest places to park their cash.”

Many of the units in these beanpole buildings will seldom or never see their owners. For those buyers who actually choose to move in, amenities will abound. Central Park Tower has a 7 story Nordstrom store at its base, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a grand ballroom, private dining room and a cigar bar.

While this flurry of towers is going up, the number of affordable housing units in the city is going drastically down. Ordinary New Yorkers struggle to find a place to live which doesn’t consume their entire paycheck. Perhaps there is a fix for this situation.

Hotels in town charge an occupancy tax for rooms. New York could charge an unoccupancy tax for all nights the owners of these luxury units do not spend in their own beds. Those tax dollars could be tagged for rent subsidies and building affordable housing. It’s high time to find some creative solutions to the housing shortage in all our major American cities.

Here are some views of the high life.

Here are some more “super skinnies” photographed by Peter Little.

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