Deu no NY Times online
03-01-2018, por Jonathan Mahler
The Case for the Subway
It built the city. Now, no matter the cost — at least $100 billion — the city must rebuild it to survive
Waiting on the platform at Chambers Street.
CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times
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(..) The subway’s importance to the city begins with a single, durable economic principle: Cities create density, and density creates growth. Economists call the phenomenon agglomeration. Not only does geographical proximity reduce costs, but it also facilitates the exchange of knowledge and spurs innovation. It’s a principle that holds true for better and worse and regardless of the industry.
(..) If the story of the subway is the story of density, it is also the story of land — and more to the point, the story of land value. Before the first tracks had even been laid, real estate speculators were gobbling up farmland and empty lots along the proposed route and then quickly flipping their parcels at huge premiums to builders. When the subway recovered from its last major crisis, it again began throwing off enormous returns for the owners of the land above it. From 1993 to 2013, the average price for a co-op or condo in TriBeCa rose from $182 per square foot to $1,569. In the process, prime real estate in Manhattan was transformed from a place where people lived and built businesses into a high-yield investment in which absentee owners parked their money and watched it grow.
(..) In Hong Kong, the company that runs the subway also controls the property around it, earning huge amounts that it can then reinvest in service enhancements. The M.T.A., by contrast, is largely cut out of the land profiteering that it enables: Of the authority’s roughly $16 billion budget in 2017, about $460 million came from a tax on residential real estate transactions. An additional $520 million came from a tax on commercial sales. To put those numbers in perspective, several years ago, a group of economists calculated that the land in New York City — just the land, not the buildings on it — was worth about $2.5 trillion. One thing New York City has plenty of is money, and much of it is bound up in real estate, a kind of blank canvas with unlimited economic promise. (Continua)
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