At today's NY Times "Vu 2008" forum on West Side development, panel members Joseph Moinian (Moinian Group), Larry Silverstein, and Ric Clark (Brookfield Properties) were all extremely bullish on the long term prospects for the far West Side, while speaking in near unison over concerns for the need for a 7 train extension (including a 41st St, station) and reinstatement of something identical or very similar to the soon to be expired 421-a program.
Silverstein said flatly that the 7 train extension is critical, otherwise development "isn't going to happen". Moinian, meanwhile alternated from the assuring statement that the developers "will have" the 7, to a more pleading statement that the train is a "must have". Many comparisons were drawn to the eventual success of Canary Wharf in London. Silverstein aptly pointed out that the the first two developers failed and that the success only came after the availability of mass transit.
In regards to the June 30th expiration of 421-a benefits, everyone agreed that the state has gone too far and that a reinstatement of something very similar or identical is needed to spur development while providing affordable housing. Moinian saw the expiration as a "major concern", while Silverstein noted that 'affordable housing would be impossible without the 421-a. Steven Spinola, President of REBNY, saw the expiration as "frightening". While the terminology used was fairly dramatic, the vibe from the participants was that the state would figure this out, make adjustments, and eventually the problem will blow over.
The only area of any substantive disagreement was of the impact of the credit crisis. Silverstein sees a ground shift and a much more conservative approach on the part of banks. Clark saw this as a much more short term issue, he said 'a financial crisis seems to crop up every 10 years or so, and 5 years later they seem to forget about it'. Moinian pointed out that when institutions jump back in, New York is the #1 place that institutions will invest.
It was somewhat remarkable that 3 diverse developers could have such a broad consensus. Now if we could only see the same on the part of Bloomberg, Schumer, and Dolan, we'd be all set.