Think you can tell the difference between a city and a business park? It may not be so clear. A corporate buying boom since the financial crash is gobbling up city property and leaving us with places that are literally not our town.
Purchasing took off after 2008, when foreclosure rates were high, bank loans were drying up, and record levels of commercial properties were standing vacant. Last year, major acquisitions by corporations topped a $1 trillion in 100 large cities and by major we do mean major — in New York, that’s only counting property-buys of worth $5m or more.
The great corporate buy-up is leaving us with more mega projects, more private space, and more people, but less of everything else, most notably, less of everything public, from parks and plazas to elected governance and with all that private space, comes more private police.
The reliance on armed private contractors outside of the public command, is not longer only a phenomenon for our Embassies in Kabul and Baghdad. It’s increasingly the norm at home. Angry about police violence? Pushing for more effective community oversight? We may get more and more of that, and less and less police.