Hollywood

Why Does Hollywood Hate Real Estate Developers?

The typecasting of builders as villains might help explain why NIMBYs so often win the policy battles over urban growth and development.

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There's a scene in the HBO drama The Wire where several Baltimore homicide detectives come to the realization that the murderous gangster they've been chasing for the better part of three seasons might have moved on to a new profession.

"Seems that Stringer Bell is worse than a drug dealer," says one. "He's a developer," finishes another.

The line is a joke, but it's also an important piece of exposition: The money from Baltimore's drug trade is fueling a corrupt redevelopment of the city that will wipe away what little is left of deeply rooted (but deeply troubled) communities.

The Wire was a groundbreaking show in many ways. Its casting of land developers in the role of shadowy villains is the most ordinary thing about it. In Hollywood, a developer is almost always a bad guy.

Throughout television and film, property mongers are deployed again and again as antagonists whose schemes to build a new condo or supermarket must be defeated at all costs. The trope transcends genre boundaries, giving a work's protagonists someone to fight against and something to fight for. Developers menace characters in goofy comedies and serious serial dramas. They appear in dark horror movies, children's cartoons, and blockbuster sci-fi flicks. Whether it's a gentle animated feature like Up or an alien war film like Avatar, a comedy like Barber Shop 2 or an absurdist musical like The Blues Brothers, chances are someone trying to build something somewhere is the threat that sets the whole plot in motion.

The trend is pervasive enough that there's a whole blog, Evil Developer Movies, cataloging bad-guy builders. The website TV Tropes has labeled this particular cliché "saving the orphanage"—alternatively known as "saving the community center" or "saving the home"—and finds examples of it in everything from anime to professional wrestling. In the movies and on television, evil developers are everywhere.

Common bad guy types such as mob bosses, drug dealers, and even terrorists have earned some level of on-screen atonement, or at least gained some personal depth, as compelling, complicated antiheros. But the scumbags trying to finance new apartment buildings and shopping malls haven't been so lucky. Perhaps that's too much to expect when those few moviegoers who do care about land-use policy spend their time outside the theater petitioning for increasingly restrictive zoning codes and protesting new construction in their neighborhoods (and, in the time of coronavirus, refusing to pay rent on units that have already been built).

It's a pop-culture paradox: Even as demand for homes has skyrocketed across the country, the people who actually build them are consistently portrayed as jerks. The more housing we need, the less we like the people who provide it.

The big question is: Why? Why is the developer always cast as the slimy, unscrupulous, corner-cutting, occasionally genocidal villain?

One reason is Hollywood's traditional bias against businessmen. Popular movies are, not surprisingly, populist. Audiences never seem to tire of rooting against wealthy evildoers concerned only with growing their stacks. The rock-bottom reputation of developers in real life, colored by the often sleazy, occasionally corrupt nature of their industry, certainly does nothing to endear their fictional avatars to moviegoers.

Meanwhile, conventional movie plots demand clear-cut heroes and villains and succinct, easy-to-visualize resolutions. This leads filmmakers to emphasize the destructive aspects of the development business while burying the considerable benefits it provides in the form of new homes, shopfronts, and offices that allow people, businesses, and whole communities to grow and thrive. Characters who have to unite to defeat an outside threat are characters viewers can root for. Sometimes that threat is an alien invasion. Other times it's an alien-looking condo building. Unlike new construction's potential to stabilize rents and provide a wider array of housing options, the immediate threat of destruction to an idyllic small town is easy to see, and thus easy to put on film.

The consistent on-screen portrayal of developers as villains tells us about more than movies. Politics is about spinning compelling narratives too. The easy typecasting of people who build as bad guys might help explain why NIMBY ("not in my backyard") interests are often able to win the policy battles over urban growth and development, if not the actual arguments.

'A Complicated and Ugly Process'

Understanding the evil-developer trope requires understanding its history. One place to start would be with the Depression-era movies of Frank Capra.

Capra directed two of the first major films with an evil-developer antagonist: 1938's You Can't Take It With You and the 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life. The former involves an unscrupulous arms manufacturer whose plan to buy up the land near his factory is thwarted by a holdout homeowner. The latter gives us one of the most iconic rich-guy villains in movie history: Mr. Potter.

Potter, the cold-hearted and exploitative slumlord of Bedford Falls, engages in everything from attempted bribery to outright theft in an effort to stop the saintly George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, from providing Potter's tenants with the option of affordable, quality suburban housing. That message surely meshed well with moviegoers of the '40s, who had suffered through a prolonged Depression commonly believed to have been caused by capitalist risk taking. The collective deprivation during World War II probably made Potter's single-minded pursuit of wealth seem all the more crass and selfish.

This early iteration of developer-as-villain is complicated by the fact that Bailey himself is also basically a developer. The conflict in the film is therefore between two rival businessmen—and, ultimately, within Bailey himself as he struggles to appraise his own value in the world. Yet the main takeaway from the film is that the generosity and open-heartedness that contribute to Bailey's professional failures are also what make him an asset to his family and community—someone worthy, in the end, of redemption. The implied flip side of this story's moral is that being a good developer requires being a bad person.

In a 2017 dissection of Capra's influence on the evil-developer formula for CityLab, Mark Hogan writes that "George Bailey, for all his other virtues, isn't much of a businessperson. His bank needs to be bailed out twice over the course of the film. The holiday lesson here: If you want to make money, you need to be Mr. Potter."

According to Hogan, a more perfected version of this trope didn't arrive until a few decades later. "The heyday of the evil developer movie was the 1980s," he writes. Treating real estate developers as villains fit well with the supposed dog-eat-dog capitalism of the time. "This was the era of the yuppie, when factories closed and Donald Trump thrived. It was also a time of real-life economic swings, from the high inflation and interest rates of the early 1980s—followed by a recession—to the Savings and Loan Crisis of the last part of the decade."

One need not agree with Hogan's characterization of the '80s-era economy to see how such a view could color the attitudes of film producers and watchers, making them hungry for tales where the Reaganite capitalists are portrayed as soulless profit seekers. This obviously extends beyond developers to other creatures of finance: your Gordon Geckos and Patrick Batemans, wealthy Wall Street workers who loudly and explicitly tout the productive aspects of greed and free enterprise while bringing nothing but destruction to the people around them.

Yet evil developers in this era show up in everything from horror movies like Poltergeist to comedies like The Goonies to horror-comedies like People Under the Stairs (technically not an '80s film, as it was released in 1991). The sheer frequency suggests there's something special about this particular wealthy antagonist that goes beyond Hollywood's baseline loathing of Big Business.

One explanation might be that developers are easy to cast as shady villains in fiction because they're often shady in reality. The business of real estate development, after all, is a mess of red tape, regulation, and crony-dominated approval processes.

"From zoning permits to eminent domain to tax abatement, urban development as it exists today is a complicated and ugly process unintentionally designed to benefit developers with the fewest qualms about greasing palms and buying off opposition," researcher Nolan Gray writes at Market Urbanism. As Michael Manville and Paavo Monkkonen, two urban planning professors at UCLA, put it in their 2018 study of anti-development attitudes, "a combination of high land costs and complex regulations often makes development difficult. These circumstances could select for developers who are both affluent and out-of-step with conventional ways of behaving: only deep-pocketed, hard-charging and confrontational people will be willing and able to lobby elected officials and get rules changed in order to build." It's a system that's practically designed to reward the Potters of the world while squeezing out the Baileys.

With developers' real-life reputations so low, is it any wonder that audiences would be receptive to fictional portrayals of them doing awful things—and that we would be primed to root for their downfall? This explanation fits neatly with a common formula for bad-guy-developer movies: the one where an antagonist crafts some truly heinous scheme to prop up his real estate investment.

Probably the most obvious example of this, as Hogan notes, is 1978's Superman, a story in which Lex Luther plots to sink the entire West Coast into the Pacific Ocean as part of a plan to turn his otherwise valueless holdings of desert land into prime beachfront property. In a 2006 Superman reboot heavily indebted to the '70s movie, Luther doubles down on his evil schemes by trying to create entirely new virgin landmasses ripe for development. Unfortunately, the land is to come at the expense of existing continents and the people who live on them. In both portrayals, the developer is literally a comic-book supervillain whose development strategy is a form of profit-driven mass murder.

There's a similar dynamic in the best-forgotten 1990 movie Darkman, a comic book–like film from the future director of 2002's Spider-Man in which a mobbed-up developer tries to kill Liam Neeson (playing a scientist) to conceal the fact that he bribed the zoning commission to secure permission for his redevelopment of the city's dilapidated waterfront. Unfortunately for the bad guy—and, frankly, for the waterfront—Neeson is only maimed in the attempted hit. He spends the rest of the movie on a rampage of revenge.

The message for audiences is clear: The benefits of new development accrue solely to annoying and often malevolent characters. The new spaces they create for people to live, work, and play are at best an accidental byproduct of the villain's usually violent schemes for self-enrichment. The buildings themselves are mere inanimate objects, little more than MacGuffins. The actual people who might inhabit them and enjoy their amenities are never shown.

No Corruption Required

As compelling as this explanation is, it's also incomplete. It's true that a lot of opposition to new development is motivated by a not-totally-unfounded view of developers as crony capitalists. But a lot of it isn't. NIMBYs rarely have qualms about opposing new projects that didn't receive special favors—sometimes projects whose developers bent over backward to hand out concessions and community benefits.

A lot of movies make the developers bad guys even when no corruption or murder is involved. Their role as villains stems entirely from their attempts to build something new rather than any misdeeds they carried out to make their project happen.

New development almost always requires an element of creative destruction. To build a fancy new building, it's often necessary to knock down the old one that stood in its place. On some level, we all accept this process as necessary and beneficial. At the same time, the long-run, dispersed benefits of change are a hard thing for our brains to really grasp. We focus on the most obvious effects happening around us, which often means focusing more on the immediate destruction and less on the later creation.

This is why, in real life, it's easy to get a bunch of angry residents to show up at a city council meeting to protest the redevelopment of a neighborhood business and hard to get anyone to defend the new apartment building that will replace it. It's a narrative that audiences are prone to accept in the fiction they consume as well, particularly in the time-constrained medium of film, where there's less room to dwell on long-run effects and unseen benefits.

That fact helps explain the most common formula for an evil-developer film: the quirky yet tight-knit ensemble cast of characters pitted against a real estate tycoon threatening to destroy their beloved home or hangout, and with it our heroes' sense of community and place. The Goonies—a movie in which a misfit band of kids tries to prevent the foreclosure and redevelopment of their families' houses into a golf course by recovering a long-lost pirate treasure—is one example of this phenomenon. But there are many, many more, from One Crazy Summer to The Country Bears, that fit the bill.

Sometimes in this formula the developer is corrupt or homicidal, but that's hardly a requirement. More often, he's just obnoxious. And sometimes he's secretly the good guy, even if neither filmmakers nor audiences quite realize it. Take 2005's Rent, adapted from a 1993 musical of the same name. The movie features a crew of supposedly lovable bohemians squaring off against their former roommate and current landlord, who is trying to evict them in order to redevelop their rundown building.

That might seem like a crummy thing to do to your friends. Yet the reason these characters are being evicted is that they've refused to pay rent for a whole year despite several of them having the means to do so. (One is a talented filmmaker with wealthy parents; another is a successful stripper.) The owner's plans for the building are hardly soulless either. His goal is to redevelop the property into pricey condos, the proceeds from which will be used to finance the creation of an art studio. Nonetheless, viewers are clearly supposed to identify with and root for the nonpaying residents.

This dynamic shows how biased film is in favor of narratives about communities fighting against change from the outside. When counterprogramming touting the values of growth and dynamism does appear in these movies, it's often put in the mouths of cynical characters who clearly don't believe it (and whose words do little to win the audience over). When Strack, the evil developer in Darkman, tries to explain away his corruption by arguing that his City of the Future project will result in "acres of riverfront reclaimed from decay" and "thousands of jobs created," we're none too convinced by his good intentions. It doesn't help that he delivers these lines while staring lustfully at a model of his proposed development as ominous music plays in the background. Strack is evil, and thus his plan to build new, usable space and create jobs must be evil too.

Development and its Discontents

"Change is good" is the oft-repeated line of Sheck, the bad-guy developer in the film-length adaption of Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold! That's often true, but it's much easier to sympathize with the protagonists in the movie who are resisting his attempts to bulldoze their neighborhood and who ask in response, "What's wrong with leaving things the way they are?" Discounting the benefits of change, or treating them as tainted by the motivations of the villains who would bring them about, aligns the message of these works with the exclusionary preferences and politics of NIMBYs in real life—interests that care little for the wealth and opportunities new development might bring other people.

The ubiquity of anti-development narratives creates a revolving door between fact and fiction. Hollywood has given the country's NIMBYs a lot of reasons to see themselves as the good guys. In turn, their fights against new construction come to mirror the ones we see on screen, occasionally to an absurd degree. The characters in the Hey Arnold! movie, for instance, end up saving their block from destruction by uncovering a document proving that it was the site of a famous flashpoint in the Revolutionary War (the "Tomato Incident"). This is a silly cartoon plot. But it isn't too far from what happened in San Francisco in 2018, when a group of neighbors showed up to a real-life Board of Appeals hearing to argue that a vacant lot in their neighborhood couldn't be turned into housing because a dirt path that ran through it—per their own amateur history work—had been used by early Spanish explorers in the region. Unlike the kids in Hey Arnold!, these neighbors were never able to prove their claim. The developer was allowed to build his project, albeit a slightly smaller one than what he'd originally proposed.

At the heart of all these portrayals is a fantasy of a world without tradeoffs or even annoyances, one in which the only spaces anyone needs or wants are the ones they already have. It's wishful thinking that works from the assumption that housing just exists without having to be provided. Embedded in this worldview is a denial of the fact that preventing development and change means some people inevitably have to go without, while politically connected interest groups profit from higher rents and home values. The politicians who make this all possible are in turn rewarded with campaign donations and easy reelection. The bias is toward the status quo, and a corrupt one at that.

Surely someone would have liked to stop the initial creation of the working-class neighborhood where the characters in Hey Arnold! live. We, the audience, see only its most recent iteration, watching as its current inhabitants claim the moral high ground while desperately fighting any further change. The characters in Rent, meanwhile, assert that they shouldn't have to pay their bills in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic—which isn't too far from contemporary tenant activists arguing that COVID-19 obviates their own obligation to pay rent.

The ease with which we buy the evil-developer storyline is bad news, and not just for those of us hungry for a little more originality in filmmaking. Too many of America's cities face shortages of housing, giving rise to unaffordable rents, unbearable commutes, and scandalous numbers of homeless people. The irony is that many of these problems originate with policies—from environmental review laws to density restrictions—intended to help "save the neighborhood."

Chances are many of these policies would exist with or without the surfeit of movies and TV shows about crooked landowners. But the trope has clearly shaped our cultural script about development and its discontents, and little if any effort has been made to create a popular counternarrative.

The evil-developer trope gets the story backward. By championing anti-development, anti-growth policies, activists and politicians have made housing less available and less affordable, often while enriching themselves through the creation of artificial scarcity. Those few developers who are allowed to build get to share in these ill-gotten gains while doing irreparable harm to the reputation of an essential industry. The NIMBYs of the world may have benefited from Hollywood's persistently negative portrayal of developers—but in real life, it's clear that the NIMBYs are the villains.

NEXT: Police Unions Lose Bid To Block Release of Huge Trove of NYPD Misconduct Records

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  2. Sorry, but the reputation of developers as scumbag sleazeballs is well-deserved. Everybody knows you can’t just go out and build a new shopping center, an office park, an apartment complex, a subdivision, or any other large-scale project without jumping through an infinite number of bureaucratic hoops specifically designed to make it impossible to do such a project – and therefore if you’ve managed to get permission for such a project you’ve obviously bribed, bought off, blackmailed, or otherwise arm-twisted a shitload of people to get it done. There is no fucking way you legally and straight-forwardly got permission to build your project, it’s impossible to get permission from all the myriad bureaucrats and special interest groups, the environmentalists and the community activists, the historical preservationists and the planning commissions, all them goddamn rent-seeking money-grubbing motherfuckers with their paw out demanding a pay-off for granting you permission to do what you want with your own fucking property, just no way in Hell.

    1. You didn’t develop that!

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    2. If every structural brick is stacked against honest, straight-and-narrow development, then aren’t you just making the case of “don’t hate the player, hate the game”?

      If anything, the greatest reputation hit should be borne by all those busybodies you mentioned standing in the way of growth, not on those trying to pass through them in order to deliver the good stuff.

      1. Why can’t you hate both? The prohibitory laws regarding narcotics and other trades aren’t their fault, but that doesn’t excuse the gangsters who take advantage from being gangsters. They’re a necessary evil.

    3. This is true, and why I have a lot of sympathy for those who get eminent domain to acquire the land for their urban redevelopment projects. Practically speaking, there are no rights to property in cities, it’s just a matter of who the politicians allow to use the land. And eminent domain is just one piece, sometimes a small one, of the path of statism that allows redevelopment in cities.

    4. Oh bullshit. You clearly know nothing about real estate development first hand.

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  3. Hollywood hates anyone who’s in it for the money.

    Kind of ironic.

    1. Except, of course, the H’wood talent and businesses.

      1. But they are artistes!

  4. Of course, Christian has written a wonderful article describing the total evil of the government controlling the uses of private property, and then proves he has joyfully consumed the kool-aid by using the headline about the developers.
    If the developers did not have to go through the bribery of the corrupt government officials, none of these “evils” would exist.

    Sometimes I wish there were a Libertarian web site with Libertarian writers.

    1. Why hasn’t someone posed as a real estate developer to try to secretly capture the corruption in the development process? I wonder if it would even do any good or change anything.

      1. You don’t have to bribe government officials to get projects approved in most places. Only in democrat strongholds.

        1. But that’s where more people live than anywhere else in particular.

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          2. And in those areas it’s a democrat problem. Not a RE developer problem. If they had non corrupt planning departments, most of that bullshit would go away.

            As usual the solution is to get rid of the democrats.

    2. They get so close…then can’t quite get there. It’s as if most of the writers have certain beliefs that coincide with libertarianism, but it’s not their core philosophy that that informs the rest of their beliefs.

        1. Lol. Kinda, yeah.

  5. Because it’s hard to find a villain for stories when you’re not very creative.

    1. I’m pretty sure RE developers were the villains in every other episode of the A Team.

      1. I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

  6. “We’ve been in place forever. Look around. Real estate, water rights, oil, cheap labor- all that’s ours, it’s always been ours. And you, at the end of the day what are you? one more unit in this swarm of transients who come and go without pause here in the sunny Southland, eager to be bought off with a car of a certain make, model, and year, a blonde in a bikini, thirty seconds on some excuse for a wave- a chili dog, for Christ’s sake.” He shrugged. “We will never run out of you people. The supply is inexhaustible.”

    1. You’re really citing a period piece as some kind of authority on how development works 50 years after the one shown in the movie?

  7. People like you lose all claim to respect the first time they pay anybody rent. And when the first landlord decided to stiff the first tenant for his security deposit, your whole fucking class lost everybody’s respect.

    1. trueman is not capable of sarc, so this is flat-out stupidity.
      Fuck off, slaver.

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            1. I wasn’t thanking you.

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    2. I’ve always gotten back every penny of the security deposits I’ve laid down, so I don’t know what you’re crying about.

      Maybe the tenant shouldn’t have trashed the apartment before he left, he might have gotten that money back.

  8. Let’s see who the “evil developer” meme would appeal to. Luddites, NIMBYs, unmotivated people, people who like to blame their own misfortune on others, elitists who want to preserve some archaic society so they can have an authentic experience when dining or traveling, nannies who want to coddle people, and socialist planners who have their own master development plan and don’t want any competition.

    Hmm, this list reminds me of a certain political party.

  9. To be fair, a lot of developers use eminent domain, in both real life and film, in addition to NIMBYism when it suits them against rival developers. So, hatred towards them is sometimes warranted.

    Off course, Hollywood being Hollywood, will conflate developers getting rich of off using eminent domain vs legitimately getting rich but “the community” being ruined– because, rich people = rich people = bad.

    Also, I am willing to give the Wire a pass for that joke, since they’re trying to be realistic; the character (was is McNulty, or that other renage cop who married the union boss’s daughter) likely watched the same biased Hollywood films as the rest of us.

    1. Right, but that’s a product of their looking for the property they’ll be allowed to redevelop. Not here, not there, only this place…but that’s going to require some condemnations.

      Out in the open country I have no sympathy for takings for any purpose other than acquisition of long, narrow rights of way, whether to be owned by government or a private utility. But political realities make it such that redevelopment in cities could never take place without eminent domain. Not that government couldn’t make free market redevelopment possible without eminent domain, but as long as they maintain the stranglehold they have, a way thru the mess that includes takings is often the only possible way.

  10. You forgot to mention the mobster movies and TV shows. There’s always a shady guy in those who “works in construction”.

    And yes, to your greater point, it is unfortunate that the doers, the people who enlarge the cake and add to the GDP are often the bad guys in the popular imagination of Joe Schmoe. All the more reason I’m not a populist.

  11. To build a fancy new building, it’s often necessary to knock down the old one that stood in its place. On some level, we all accept this process as necessary and beneficial. At the same time, the long-run, dispersed benefits of change are a hard thing for our brains to really grasp. We focus on the most obvious effects happening around us, which often means focusing more on the immediate destruction and less on the later creation.

    Leave it to a beer commercial to show us that, one of their “Miller Time” series. We open with a countdown to the explosive demolition of a building. “Now comes Miller Time.” The demolition guy leaves the site and relaxes with a beer. Then we see he’s in an office with someone who in the final seconds of the ad pulls up a page from an easel, revealing underneath it the artist’s conception of, as that someone tells the demolition man, “And this is what you’ve made room for.” And it’s absolutely gorgeous.

    I cry every time I think about that ad (as I’m doing now) because of the brilliance of the emotional ride it takes us on, presenting nothing but destruction until the surprise payoff at the end.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFQWYILavK8&list=UUp7pZSKUNwY5NWk_YuNxEYQ&index=1100
      And now I see that, ironically, the building that was brought down had fans — see comments thread on the YouTube.

  12. It goes back to the Georgism at the turn of the 20th century, which inspired the game Monopoly, which was created to teach that real estate monopolies are evil.

  13. Well of course you can’t make a movie, or even write a book, about a developer as a hero. Hollywood types will just demonize it anyway.

    Isn’t ‘Developer as Hero’ basically the synopsis of Atlas Shrugged?

    1. Hmmmm….. maybe The Fountainhead.

      1. Architect, not developer.

      2. Not a real estate developer, but Rearden certainly develops property (ie, building the train line with his metal).

        Fountainhead was an architect, and since that didn’t involve financing construction or anything like that, really quite different.

  14. Bailey’s bank only has to be bailed out the second time because Uncle Billy is a moron who can’t take care of an envelope full of money.

    1. Hmm, who (or what) else is a moron who can’t take care of an envelope (bag, treasury) full of money?

      1. What could be safer than shrink wrapping a pallet full of cash and sending it out of the country?

      2. Congress?

  15. The United States has the lowest cost housing in the developed world.

    1. Don’t worry, democrats will come to the rescue and fix that!

  16. Potter owns the bank after the first crisis. But the Bailey’s continue to deposit funds there.

    Anyway other than the douchebag move of keeping their cash Potter really didn’t do much to inspire their wrath. And he was right the Baileys were terrible businessmen.

    1. And Potter even offers George a 3 year contract for $20K per year. $60K in 1947 is over $700K today. Even if he didn’t reup his employment contract George would still walk away flush with cash. But he probably thinks it’s selling out. So work for him for 3 years, pocket the cash, go open another building & loan. Potter ain’t living forever.

      But the SNL ending with Dana Carvey is still pretty good.

      1. I still order it to be the true ending.

    1. To clarify, as of last week, the median home in the U.S. rose to 300 or 301k, as most urban jobs are telecommuting and fleeing the “peaceful” protests. Homeownership rose to highest levels also.

      1. But remember, it has nothing to do with a certain evil orange man getting 30 yr mortgage rates under 3%.
        It is all due to the wonderful recovery enacted by Emperor Hussein and ol’ Joe.

  17. Christian quotes “City Lab”. Take a look at that site (especially before Bloomberg purchased it). New Urban Marxists, every single one of them.

  18. I love new developments. You get your pick of the apartments and the best part is you get the whole place to yourself for a month or two before others start moving in.

    Many people oppose developments because they think it hurts poor people. However in fact it’s the way to create affordable housing. Think about it – when people move into these new apartments, where do they move from? Their previous apartment actually become cheaper, and so on down the line, and this is a far better and more sustainable solution than subsidized housing.

    Anyway the long term solution for housing is for billionaires to establish low-cost, low-carbon resort colonies so people can retire and leave jobs for others to work and support themselves and thereby obviate big government and charity. Let the robots take over and do the heavy lifting and plant a trillion trees to offset climate change. In return the residents live by strict rules of conduct (certainly not for everyone) and vote for small government, low tax libertarians. Place them in swing states to ensure conservative wins for generations. It’s the pathway to paradise!

    This is voluntary (Christian) communism (see Acts 2:44). Whereas the alternative is forced – socialism.

    1. What too many anti-gentrification types don’t understand is that making more expensive housing is not the same as making housing more expensive.

  19. I thought that NIMBYISM is the very acme of Libertarianism. What on earth is the point of having a back yard if you are powerless to stop others from doing what they like in it?

    1. Come to think of it, though, NIMBY is a misnomer. It’s trying to stop others from doing what they like in the vicinity of one’s backyard.

  20. Because Hollywood has a long history of communist screenwriters, some of whom were funded by the Soviets?

  21. There’s a similar dynamic in the best-forgotten 1990 movie Darkman

    Lazy villain profession aside, I take issue with the characterization of Darkman as “best-forgotten”.

  22. I’ve got a movie idea where the real estate developer is the hero – He’s a corrupt, manipulative, womanizing, racist, gentrifying, orphanage destroying, indigenous people displacing, eminent-domain monster, who steals from another real-estate developer – Donald Trump.

    This plot would totally sell in Hollywood.

    1. There could be a scene where the real estate developer tries to use eminent domain to take an elderly widow’s home to build a limousine parking lot for his casino.

      1. There could also be a scene where someone called White Night was crushed by a bulldozer.

        1. Sounds cool!

          1. Burned alive sounds even better.

            1. It all sounds like great entertainment. I don’t do my own stunts, by the way.

              1. I’d bet you don’t do your own thoughts, either.

                1. No, of course not. I would follow your script.

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      2. He was rightly denied the ability to take her house. However if he had a (D) next to his name the courts would have allowed him to take the house

        1. What makes you say that?

          1. Every (D) Presidents administration experience. They use the cover name ‘Environmentalist’ but steal gigantic swaths of the peoples land.

            1. G etting back to what actually happened in the Vera Coking case, the libertarian Institute for Justice defended Coking in Superior Court, and the judge, Richard Williams, who was a Jimmy Carter appointee, decided in her favor.

              I don’t know if Kuckland is implying above that the only reason the judge ruled against Trump at the time was that he was a registered Republican. Kuckland hasn’t replied. The judge did give the rationale in his ruling that the use of eminent domain in this case was too open-ended in stated purpose.

              I don’t know how to respond to what you wrote because there isn’t anything specific enough to respond to. Just kind of a vague anti-Democrat sentiment.

  23. “Why Does Hollywood Hate Real Estate Developers?”

    Because they hate everyone who isn’t part of the Hollywood elite.

    1. To them, it’s not ok to make money involving making things or doing real work for a living.

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  26. I have a certain amount of sympathy for NIMBYs. Builders will often promise promise promise that their new facilities will have Good Effects and that any feared Bad Effects will simply not happen. (It’s a lot like the promises made when governments are conned/corrupted into paying for, e.g. sports stadiums.)

    Then when the promises turn out to be false, with the Good Effects absent and the Bad Effects present, the builders say, “Sorry suckers, you’re stuck with it now!”

  27. Um, This article is a really bad example since BOTH Potter and Bailey were developers. ‘Potters Field’ vs ‘Bailey Park’

    1. But if “Mr. Potter” represented a Democratic controlled government it would be a perfect example. Taking/hiding money (taxes) from Bailey-developers in order to maintain monopolistic real-estate power for their communistic “rentals” / entitlements.

  28. Real estate developers might not be villains, but real estate speculators certainly are.

    1. Nope.

      1. Yup.

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  31. Aside from the corruption feedback loop of real estate permitting, resenting paying rent to the landlord is a universal trope.

  32. Because Hollywood has a long history of communist screenwriters, some of whom were funded by the Soviets?

  33. It’s harder to flee large Democratically controlled cities if there are no suburbs, or x-urbs.

    All those people leaving NYC have discovered how much nicer life is a mere 45 minutes away!

  34. The buildings themselves are mere inanimate objects, little more than MacGuffins. The actual people who might inhabit them and enjoy their amenities are never shown.

    Unless the house sits on a plot where the developer only moved the headstones.

    1. Come to think of it Christian, when you say ‘MacGuffin’ I think you mean ‘prop’. The definition of a MacGuffin is that it propels the story and gives it existence. It can be a living thing, but it doesn’t need to be. However, it’s hard to be more than the underlying motivation propelling a story. Props, OTOH are frequently inanimate objects and serve very little part in the story.

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