City & State: Sky-High Costs

Written by City & State on . Posted in Posts.

New York City’s construction costs are among the country’s highest—but does it matter?

In the new Mission: Impossible film, Tom Cruise’s secret-agent character leaps out of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on the planet, and scrambles along its glassy exterior—a stunt that is apparently critical to saving the world.—

Yet as far-fetched as the scene is, the paltry $1.5 billion spent to build the 162-story Dubai skyscraper may seem just as fantastical—at least compared with the sky-high cost of construction in New York City.

To put that $1.5 billion price tag into perspective, it’s less than half the cost of One World Trade Center, which is nearing completion, and wouldn’t be enough to construct a mile of the Second Avenue Subway inching along below Manhattan.

Just retrofitting the Empire State Building took more than a third of the money spent to build the sleek Dubai skyscraper.

Of course, the comparison is not exactly one of apples and oranges. Unlike Dubai, New York City has one of the oldest, most densely developed urban environments in the world, where almost every inch is already spoken for. Construction companies dig foundations and build skyscrapers while navigating around subway and utility lines, being sure not to crush the older buildings at the edge of their lot lines, and coordinating every truckload of material through some of the nation’s worst traffic.

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