He is one of life’s enthusiast. He cheerfully disarms the audience by opening with a reference to the relationship of NY and London. We are ‘frienemies’ - friendly enemies. His pitch is that it is better to spar competitively with each other but to join forces against the rest as we both win. This is certainly true of our high end property. NY and London are perfect complements to those who can afford to live in both cities. Both are huge beneficiaries of the global wealth markets in a way that no other city, with the exception of Hong Kong perhaps, can match. The reasons are three fold. The common English language, the rule of law is fair, transparent and well understood around the World and the third is the diversity of population.
He says that all this is held together by investing in cities as quality places to live. It will attract the best people, who will create wealth and create business and so on. NYC seems to be having a renaissance of public space creation, which Doctoroff sees as a direct investment in creating wealth for NYC.
What is perhaps less well appreciated is the seemingly higher level of community spirit and collective action in NYC rather than in London. Doctoroff thinks this is cultural but it has the potential to give NYC the edge.
By example, The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district. It closed in 1980 and left a derelict eyesore. It runs for miles along the west side of Manhattan.
Just before it was pulled down, the Friends of Highline was established. The City authority provided the Friends with the right connections. As a result it has been transformed into a beautiful linear park and is now hailed as a great success.
Although it was started by activists, it has been the uplift in business and property values close to the Highline that has helped transform it and the area around it. It is owned by the City, so it is a public space, but it was paid for by private money and it is now privately maintained. No dogs are allowed as clearing up the mess is the most costly part of street cleaning. It seems unlikely that this could happen in London. Are we losing our imagination to NYC.
Ash Sakula’s Canning Town Caravaneserai seems to me to be just such a project that if in NYC would have captured the imagination of public and private sector and would have been lead by someone like Doctoroff. I don’t think Boris knows much about it.
The irony is that the first London Plan by Ken Livingstone kicked NYC into action with plaNYC 2030. UNlike the London Plan, plaNYC places definite time limitations on achieving projects that will allow one million more people to live and work in NYC. It is London that now needs to learn from NYC. Our plans need to be implemented and a commitment to keeping London a diverse city and not simply a playground for the globals wealthiest.