Should owners in supertall towers be charged for their views?

one57
© One57

Housing costs and inequity are huge problems in our successful cities, as developers build super thin, super tall buildings and Pikettyscapers that nobody but the very rich can afford. One of the things that developers sell is the view- often of a public resource like Central Park, where a view like this is worth millions.

In Toronto, Gail Dexter Lord, a culture and museum planning consultant and co-prez of Lord Cultural Resources, has an interesting idea: monetize the views of cultural institutions like art galleries and museums. She tells Metro News:

“Condo developers are promoting, pushing and selling based on views,” Lord said. “And in the meantime, the organizations that provide those views are starved for money.”

Pikkety LineSkyscraper Dictionary/via

I would add parks to the list. They cost a lot to maintain and are under constant pressure, and views over them are really valuable. Buyers are already paying for these views; apartments with them cost far more than those lower in the building or that look into another building. But usually the developer gets all the bucks. Gail Lord notes that if cultural institutions like museums or art galleries “received money for the views they provide and preserve, she believes they could attract more visitors – or at least lower ticket prices.“ Imagine what parks could do with that kind of resource.

Neo Bankside and Tate© BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

These are, in most cases (with notable exceptions like at the Tate Modern in London) “forever views”- there is not much fear that giant towers will be built in Central Park or on top of the Metropolitan Museum.

It’s an ingenious concept: imagine those with lake views paying to clean up beaches, those with park views improving parks. In New York City, many people complain that the tall towers are ruining the parks with their shadows; this is a way to recapture some of that.

Of course the developers hate it because they say it would be passed on to home owners but they would, wouldn’t they? Isn’t that the point?

More in Metro News.

Tags: Housing Industry | Toronto

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