Some conservatives like to make the argument that New York City could solve its housing shortage if rent controls were lifted. This is naive thinking--Boston abandoned rent controls some time ago and we still have a regional housing shortage. These shortages stem from multiple problems; permitting bureaucracy, stupid zoning, financing inertia, and increasing inequality.
Another issue is nostalgia. The people in a city like Hong Kong have embraced verticality and density to a degree that is inconceivable for most Americans. Jane Jacobs spoke fondly of the necessity of old buildings, but she regarded them as a transitional necessity in the march towards urbanization. Historicists and embedded residents grow accustomed to a density standard and seek to preserve it even when the quality of the building stock is terrible.
New York has stopped reinventing itself.