New York for Sale

New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate

Tom Angotti
foreword by Peter Marcuse
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 328
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    New York for Sale
    Book Description:

    Remarkably, grassroots-based community planning flourishes in New York City--the self-proclaimed "real estate capital of the world"--with at least seventy community plans for different neighborhoods throughout the city. Most of these were developed during fierce struggles against gentrification, displacement, and environmental hazards, and most got little or no support from government. In fact, community-based plans in New York far outnumber the land use plans produced by government agencies. In New York for Sale, Tom Angotti tells some of the stories of community planning in New York City: how activists moved beyond simple protests and began to formulate community plans to protect neighborhoods against urban renewal, real estate mega-projects, gentrification, and environmental hazards. Angotti, both observer of and longtime participant in New York community planning, focuses on the close relationships among community planning, political strategy, and control over land. After describing the political economy of New York City real estate, its close ties to global financial capital, and the roots of community planning in social movements and community organizing, Angotti turns to specifics. He tells of two pioneering plans forged in reaction to urban renewal plans (including the first community plan in the city, the 1961 Cooper Square Alternate Plan--a response to a Robert Moses urban renewal scheme); struggles for environmental justice, including battles over incinerators, sludge, and garbage; plans officially adopted by the city; and plans dominated by powerful real estate interests. Finally, Angotti proposes strategies for progressive, inclusive community planning not only for New York City but for anywhere that neighborhoods want to protect themselves and their land. New York for Sale teaches the empowering lesson that community plans can challenge market-driven development even in global cities with powerful real estate industries

    eISBN: 978-0-262-26717-5
    Subjects: Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword: So What’s Community Planning?
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Peter Marcuse

    So what’s so great about community planning? If it’s everything Tom Angotti says it is, then why isn’t it better recognized, debated, practiced, and fought for? And what is it, anyway? Is it just community-scaled planning—below the level of the city and above that of the neighborhood? Planning has to be at all scales. What’s so surprising about that?

    To start with what it is: Angotti is very clear in his text and examples that he has a broad definition in mind, and he often uses the phraseprogressive community-based planningto indicate it. All four words count. Not...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Chronology of Major Planning Events in New York City
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. 1 Community Planning without Displacement: Strategies for Progressive Planning
    (pp. 1-34)

    Since the rise of the modern metropolis over a century ago, urban social movements have opposed giant public and private redevelopment schemes that threaten to displace residents and businesses. As part of these movements, people organize, say “we won’t move” in a collective voice, and try to stop the bulldozers. This scenario occurs in every region of the world, including rich and poor countries.¹ The Habitat International Coalition² regularly broadcasts news from its members around the world about their struggles against displacement. For example, in Karachi, Pakistan, residents are now organizing to protest the demolition of thousands of homes to...

  8. I Understanding Real Estate and Community
    • 2 The Real Estate Capital of the World
      (pp. 37-80)

      Paradoxically, community planning in New York City would not be as developed as it is today without the city’s powerful real estate market. Both the power and contradictions of real estate have created space for community planning. To formulate strategies for community planning, we must understand the complex and contradictory economic and political roles of the real estate sector. This primer on real estate looks at the city’s real estate clans and the role of the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector and shows how the real estate market is related to both location and dislocation, feeds on disasters,...

    • 3 From Dislocation to Resistance: The Roots of Community Planning
      (pp. 81-110)

      The practice of community planning might appear to be a fairly lonely and hopeless undertaking in a city that has a powerful real estate industry that dominates land-use policy. But that would be the case only if we neglected the long history and accumulated experience of community movements in New York City. That history points to a growing ability of neighborhood residents and businesses to wrest control over the way that land is used from the marketplace and its major players. That history can be traced back to the beginnings of European settlement, through the tenant and working-class organizing of...

  9. II Community Planning Stories
    • 4 From Protest to Community Plan
      (pp. 113-130)

      The struggles against urban renewal, abandonment, evictions, and landlord abuse in New York City generated political momentum for the land-use reforms mentioned in the previous chapter. At the same time, however, neighborhoods also started something of much greater significance. They started to do their own plans.

      The earliest community plans were alternatives generated by neighborhoods that struggled against displacement, and often they were alternatives to official plans that were perceived as threatening the displacement of local residents and businesses. The Cooper Square Alternate Plan was the first community plan in New York City. It was prepared by an active neighborhood...

    • 5 From Environmental Justice to Community Planning
      (pp. 131-152)

      While today a few neighborhoods confront urban renewal plans like the ones that the Cooper Square Community Development Committee and Businessmen’s Association and We Stay! ¡Nos Quedamos! responded to, many of them have instead constructed community plans in response to the complex dual threats of environmental hazards and gentrification. The demise of the federal urban renewal program in the 1970s removed a major source of financing for urban renewal. State and local governments continued to use their powers of eminent domain for urban redevelopment, sometimes assuming financial responsibility for the former federal urban renewal areas. However, with a decline in...

    • 6 Making the Plans Official
      (pp. 153-178)

      Since the 1961 Cooper Square Alternate Plan, community planning in New York City has focused on preserving and developing housing for people with modest incomes and reversing years of abandonment and neglect. In the 1980s, community planning reemerged as communities set their sights on broader objectives and tried to come to terms with two complex and contradictory elements—the concentration of environmentally hazardous local unwanted land uses (LULUs) and gentrification.¹ The environmental justice movement played an important role in the emerging community-planning efforts in the South Bronx, Red Hook, Greenpoint/Williamsburg, Sunset Park, and Harlem. But planning also broke out all...

    • 7 Community Planning for the Few
      (pp. 179-222)

      Citizen participation¹ is as American as apple pie. The concept was popularized during the federal War on Poverty in the 1960s, which sought to widen opportunities for participation in civic life by poor people and African Americans.² Civic engagement and participation have been hailed by many as fundamental hallmarks of democracy in the United States. Alexis De Tocqueville’s admiration for eighteenth-century civic life in the United States is often presented as evidence.³ However, the notable opportunities for civic participation that De Tocqueville observed were accompanied by the exclusion of slaves, women, indigenous people, and those who owned no property from...

  10. III The Future of Progressive Community Planning
    • 8 Progressive Directions for Community Planners
      (pp. 225-246)

      Where is progressive community planning going, what are its prospects, and what kind of strategy is needed to advance progressive planning in New York City and other global cities? This chapter is for the community planners and organizers who are asking these questions and for the students and professionals who ought to be asking them.

      The stories of New York City’s community plans illustrate the strategic importance of strengtheningcommunity land. Long-term planning should inventory community land and outline strategies to preserve and expand it. Community land can include a wide variety of land-tenure systems but should be subject to...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 247-276)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 277-282)
  13. Index
    (pp. 283-302)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-305)