Richard Layman makes an interesting point today, concerning office development in
NoMa Radio City. That area is beginning to look a little office heavy, where in initial plans it was envisioned as a mixed-use neighborhood. He suggests that the city’s height limit prevents the office core from being denser, leading to office sprawl that crowds out residential and retail buildings. Obviously, the growth of the city’s office core is nice, but one would hope that commercial development would be accompanied by other things, to balance the tax base, reduce congestion, and prevent the expansion of downtown deadness.
Which leads me, once again, to suggest that the city rethink the height limit. As Christopher Leinberger points out, the District owns its air rights and could sell them for a great deal of money. That money could be used for affordable housing programs, transportation projects, you name it.
I believe the District should designate a few safe viewsheds, where heights cannot be raised. Then, it should auction off a set number of height allowances each year. Auctions should boost the revenue take, and a set number of annual allowances would prevent wholesale redevelopment of areas with tight supply.
Not that wholesale development isn’t already taking place in the office core. A startlingly high number of office buildings are under construction currently, either being torn down and replaced or refurbished and expanded. Property owners are doing everything they can to wring revenue out of an artificially limited space.