New York City has a complicated set of zoning rules that make it harder for real estate developers to start and finish new projects. Today the NY Times has published an obituary for Samuel Lindenbaum who was a master of navigating the zoning code. His life offers an interesting example of "value added" in the real estate industry. Here is a quote:
"Mr. Lindenbaum cultivated a scholar’s knowledge of theZoning Resolution, the arcane document that governs development in New York. As a result, he was able to bend the resolution to his clients’ will without breaking it. And because his clients were major builders and landowners — among them Harry B. Helmsley, Harry Macklowe, Larry A. Silverstein, Jerry I. Speyer, Leonard Litwin, Steven Roth and Donald J. Trump; the Fishers and Tisches and Rudins and Roses; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art — Mr. Lindenbaum’s imprint was enormous.
His interpretations sometimes seemed to contradict the plain meaning of the resolution. For instance, in 1992 he and his colleagues convinced the City Planning Commission that the public would actually gain by losing public space at the former AT&T headquarters on Madison Avenue, which was being renovated as Sony Plaza."