This week marks the official start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Olympics give their host city the chance to achieve substantial economic advancement and notoriety. New York has never been the host to an Olympic games, but in 2004 the administration of Mayor Bloomberg attempted and failed in a bid to host the 2012 summer Olympics. Strangely and unexpectedly, this planning for the Olympics without the actual costs of holding the games has led New York to achieve the development goals set out in the Olympic proposal, remaking multiple parts of the city, some still in progress. The largest development New York gained through the process is the Hudson Yards.
It was the bid for the summer Olympics that finally gave the city government the impetus to push through the needed reforms that would eventually create the Hudson Yards as the hub of economic activity that it is today. As part of its Olympic bid, the city proposed a massive rezoning of the far west side, opening up the area to new investment in commercial development projects. Though the bid was lost, the rezoning idea remained. In 2005 the proposal—with the exception of an Olympic/football stadium–was passed into law. Now, thirteen years later, we can see the result. Commercial development has flourished in the area.
Other benefits to the City flowing from the Olympic bid is that we now have the exceedingly popular Hudson Yards extension of the 7 train, allowing, for the first time, subway access west of 8th avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Further, part of the Olympic proposal was a doubling of the size of the Javits Center to serve as a hub for indoor sports. The project was revived by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2016 and three firms have already been selected to bid on a $1 billion expansion plan for the complex, and start of construction is imminent. Without the push of an Olympic bid, the Hudson Yards, a multi-billion driver of development and economic growth, simply might not have come into existence.
 Plitt, Amy. (Feb. 1, 2018) “New York’s unrealized Olympic dreams, mapped.” Curbed New York. Available at: https://ny.curbed.com/maps/winter-olympics-2018-nyc2012-bid-hudson-yards. Accessed on: Feb. 7, 2018.
 Williams, Keith. (Dec. 13, 2016) “The evolution of Hudson Yards: from “Death Avenue” to NYC’s most advanced neighborhood.” Curbed New York. Available at: https://ny.curbed.com/2016/12/13/13933084/hudson-yards-new-york-history-manhattan . Accessed on: Feb. 7, 2018.
72nd Street: Vik Muniz’s Perfect Strangers. A glass mosaic and laminated glass, fabricated by Franz Mayer of Munich. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority, sourced from MTAPhotos, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic.
After failed attempts during World War II and the 1970’s fiscal crisis, 10 years and $4.4 billion later Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway is officially up and running. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority states that this is the “biggest expansion of the subway system in 50 years”. Once completed, the line will stretch 8.5 miles along the East Side and is essentially an extension of the Q line. Presently, the Second Avenue Subway includes stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Street. For Upper East Siders, this line aims to cut travel time by 10 minutes and reduce congestion on the Lexington Avenue line by 23,500 people daily. Not only does the line ease overcrowding, but the new art installations at 63rd, 72nd, 86th and 96th Street stations make the subway more aesthetically pleasing.
The Second Avenue subway line has already started to affect real estate on the Upper East Side. Nineteen new construction projects from 59th Street to 96th Street are taking advantage of the real estate opportunities. The Azure condominium complex has reported that buyers are increasingly more interested in the neighborhood due to the new subway line. Therefore, it expected that prices of real estate and closed sales will steadily increase in 2017. On the downside, this means residences and businesses could see a spike in rent prices.
So who will be moving into these buildings? Millennials have started to migrate to the Upper East Side between Third Avenue and York Avenue due to affordable pricing. In light of the new construction developments and increased area dynamic by way of the new Second Avenue Subway line, millennials are likely to develop a strong preference for residences on the Upper East Side.