"Who Shrunk the Mayor?"
New York, December 28, 2015
By almost any statistical measure, New York City is doing well under Mayor Bill de Blasio: crime is low, the economy is thriving. Why, then, are so many people convinced that the city is going to the dogs, and that the mayor is to blame? A study of harsh perceptions and political realities.
Wired, October 2015
In 2015, the 40-year-old Danish architect Bjarke Ingels won the most important commission of his meteoric career: a 1,000-foot skyscraper at the World Trade Center. But for Ingels, getting the job was the easy part – the real test of his skills would come when he tried to turn his uncompromising vision into a commercial real estate development. “An architect’s work,” I wrote, “like the light of a star, only reaches the eye after a years-long journey.”
"A Glorious Boondoggle"
New York, March 9, 2015
Santiago Calatrava was commissioned to design an architectural extravagance at ground zero. He succeeded, an accomplishment that threatens to destroy his reputation. The story of the World Trade Center's $4 billion train station.
"The Red-Hot Rubble of East New York"
New York, January 26, 2015
One of the poorest neighborhoods in Brooklyn is suddenly the focus of both private speculators and City Hall, which wants to build thousands of units of affordable housing there — and by announcing its plans is fueling a land rush.
New York, June 30, 2014
New York City's real-estate market is rich with wealthy foreigners who can think of no place more alluring, nor more secret, to invest their money than a high-priced condo. With a little creative corporate structuring, property ownership here can be made as untraceable as a numbered bank account. But as Manhattan has become an island haven for anonymous money—some of it from very dubious origins—New Yorkers with garden-variety affluence are facing disheartening price wars. Local buyers, competing for scarce inventory with investors who may seldom even turn on a light switch, are often left to wonder: Who are these people?
"The Gavel Drops at Sotheby's"
New York, March 11, 2014
The world's oldest auction house sits at the center of a burgeoning new economy, a secretive marketplace where billionaires trade masterpieces like stocks. So why is Sotheby's in turmoil—and under attack by its largest shareholder, the combative hedge fund manager Dan Loeb? Inside the treacherous fight for the peak of the art market.
"Why Run a Slum If You Can Make More Money Housing the Homeless?"
New York, December 1, 2013
The Podolsky brothers—convicted felons who were once called "terror lords" by the tabloids—made a fortune off gentrification, rousting low-paying tenants from their properties by sometimes ruthless tactics. Then they hit upon an even more profitable business model: sheltering New York's homeless. An investigation into a shadowy real estate empire (see map) that absorbs tens of millions in city funds each year.
“1 Million, 2 Million, 3 Million, 20 Million / Oh, I’m So Good at Math”
New York, July 15, 2013
The rise of the rapper Jay Z offers lessons in leveraging talent, managing risk and cashing out. An unauthorized audit of his fantastically successful business model.
“Does BuzzFeed Know the Secret?”
New York, April 8, 2013
Jonah Peretti’s viral-content machine purports to have solved the problems of journalism and advertising all at once, with the help of a simple algorithm.
"The New Skyline"
Fast Company, March 2014
"SHoP Architects, a young New York firm, has grand designs. The firm's seven partners say they won't be content to merely leave a mark on America's most important skyline; they also want to transform the business of creating buildings."
“The 99-Cent Bestseller” (pdf)
Time, December 10. 2012
Amazon's popular self-publishing platform has created an upstart community of new authors, who seek their audience (and profits) through the mysterious workings of the store's algorithms. But while it's easier than ever for writers to put themselves into print, it's tougher by the day to find fame.
“Jumping the Shark”
Bloomberg Businessweek, November 21, 2012
The impudent conceptual artist Damien Hirst thumbed his nose at the art market economy in 2008 when he auctioned $200 million of his work directly to bidders. Then came the crash.
“The Fertilizer Baron of Manhattan”
Bloomberg Businessweek, September 16, 2012
At the end of the Cold War, Alex Rovt was working for a deli in Brooklyn. Today, he’s a billionaire who buys office buildings—with cash. A tale of communism, capitalism and political connections.
“An Offer They Couldn’t Refuse”
New York Times Magazine, March 18, 2012
The Centria, a luxury Manhattan high rise, was marketed as a foreign investment property to the Irish elite. But what happened to the “Celtic Tiger Villas” when the the euro's roaring times came to an end?
“How To Build On Hallowed Ground”
Bloomberg Businessweek, August 3, 2011
Douglas Durst once said that One World Trade Center shouldn’t be built. Today, he’s a big reason why it towers over Ground Zero. On the 10th anniversary of September 11th, this cover story asked: What will be the ultimate cost of revival?
“The Commerce of Commemoration”
The Nation, January 21, 2005
Review of three books about the initial stages of the World Trade Center site’s redevelopment, including Paul Goldberger's Up From Zero.
“How The New York Film Academy Discovered Gold In The Developing World”
Capital New York, April 16, 2012
From Astor Place to Lagos, the New York Film Academy provides fast instruction in the art of low-budget moviemaking. Inside the educational empire of ex-producer Jerry Sherlock, B-movie missionary.
Bloomberg Businessweek, December 2, 2010
Once a premier tourist destination, now a slum, Niagara Falls offers “a history in miniature of wrongheaded ideas about urban renewal.” And for the last decade, a single constant has loomed over the city: the Manhattan real estate billionaire Howard Milstein.
“The Billionaire and the Book Lover”
New York, August 23, 2010
When Barnes & Noble founder Len Riggio went to war with hostile shareholder Ron Burkle, it raised a question: why would anyone still want to own a mega-bookstore?
“Putting a Price on Words”
New York Times Magazine, May 16 2010
When news is search-driven, audience-targeted and everywhere, what’s the true value of a good story? A finalist for the Mirror Award, presented by Syracuse University’s school of communications.
“What’s a Dress Worth?”
New York, February 14, 2010
The online retailer Gilt Groupe offers a great deal: Buy designer clothes at deep discounts. But is it good or bad for fashion?
“On The Waterfront”
New York Times Magazine, October 21, 2009
What will become of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, one of the nation’s most polluted—and potentially valuable—waterways?
“The Tightwad’s Legacy”
New York Times Magazine, April 6, 2008
In 1999, the eccentric Greenwich Village landlord William Gottlieb died, leaving behind an estate of ramshackle properties worth perhaps a billion dollars. Then his family started feuding.
“Betting on Star Power”
New York Times Magazine, March 18, 2007
The developers of On Prospect Park hired architect Richard Meier to design the most expensive condo building in Brooklyn, and said their buyers would be “immune” to market forces. Inside one speculative wager on "starchitecture" at the audacious peak of New York's real estate bubble.
“The Supersizer of Brooklyn”
New York Times Magazine, March 20, 2011
At the other end of the real estate boom, there was the story of architect Robert Scarano. With a flair for the outrageous and a knack for gaming the zoning code, he proudly delivered premium prices and extra square footage for developers—until his influence became too obvious to ignore.
“A Cold Season in the Hamptons”
New York Times Magazine, March 11, 2009
How the real estate crash hit New York society’s summer playground.