Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a sweeping set of suggestions Monday aimed toward changing New York’s underutilized office space into housing, however the cooperation of Albany can be wanted to make it occur.
The eleven suggestions within the final report from the Office Adaptive Reuse Task Force take goal at two authorized behemoths of Huge Apple housing coverage — the state’s 1929 A number of Dwelling Regulation and the town’s 1961 Zoning Decision.
Most notably, the mayor is asking to chill out conversion rules for office buildings constructed between 1961 and 1990, bringing them in keeping with extra lenient rules governing edifices constructed earlier than then; Hizzoner says that alone would open up 120 million sq. toes of actual property for redevelopment, sufficient for up to 20,000 properties over the following decade.
The suggestions are probably the most concrete step but taken by the town authorities to convert office space in its enterprise districts — which have been severely underutilized for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic mainstreamed distant work — into properties, because the Huge Apple faces a deepening housing affordability disaster and office emptiness sits at an all-time excessive.
“With this study, we have a roadmap to deliver on a vision for a more vibrant, resilient, prosperous, and affordable city,” mentioned the mayor in an announcement. “The need for housing is desperate, and the opportunity offered by underused office space is clear — we know what we need to do. These concrete reforms would clear red tape and create the incentives to create the housing we need for New Yorkers at all income levels.”
The timing of the mayor’s announcement isn’t any coincidence: it comes in the future earlier than Governor Kathy Hochul provides her State of the State deal with, the place she is expected to propose major initiatives and reforms to spur housing construction and alleviate the affordability disaster.
“Governor Hochul has been vocal about the need to think strategically and creatively to solve New York’s housing crisis,” mentioned Hochul spokesperson Justin Henry. “Last year, she signed legislation to facilitate the conversion of underutilized hotel space into affordable housing and, in December, she stood with Mayor Adams to announce the recommendations of the New New York Panel – which included a proposal to modernize regulations around the conversion of office buildings. The Governor will announce her plan to address the statewide housing crisis in her State of the State address.”
Spokespersons for Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Chief Andrea Stewart-Cousins didn’t reply to inquiries by press time.
Of their “New New York” proposal final month, the governor and mayor collectively championed zoning reforms to reimagine the town’s underutilized office districts, although that report didn’t get into specifics.
The mayor doesn’t have as a lot uncertainty to cope with on the town finish: Council Speaker Adrienne Adams didn’t outright endorse the suggestions however portrayed them because the considerate conclusion of a course of initiated by Metropolis Corridor.
“Our recovery from the pandemic requires employing concrete tools, flexibility, and thoughtful strategies to create homes for New Yorkers and strengthen our central commercial districts,” mentioned Speaker Adams. “I look forward to working with the administration and our state partners to confront the housing shortage, ensuring that New York remains an affordable place to live, work, and raise a family for all.”
In Manhattan, office emptiness climbed to an all-time excessive of twenty-two% final fall, and on a median weekday, solely 40% of staff who filed into workplaces pre-pandemic had been nonetheless going into work in individual, in accordance to the New New York report.
Whereas the town is swimming in unused or underutilized office space, the state of affairs could be very completely different for housing. Citing stats from the Metropolis Planning Division, Hochul tweeted last week that downstate New York has 516,000 fewer housing models than jobs, evaluating unfavorably to New Jersey and Connecticut which each have extra housing than jobs.
New York is the place the place individuals and companies need to be. However we’d like to construct extra housing to match the roles we’ve created.
We’re going to take daring motion to deal with our housing disaster so that each New Yorker can attain their full potential. pic.twitter.com/iiHUwsUgch
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) January 4, 2023
After a short interval of diminished housing prices throughout the pandemic, prices have rebounded and then some: rents in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens are at or close to all-time highs, in accordance to market research by actual property firm Douglas Elliman. That’s put the squeeze on New Yorkers already struggling beneath the boot of inflation.
The mayor’s proposal doesn’t restrict its scope to Manhattan: it requires a further 16 million sq. toes of office space to be primed for housing improvement in smaller enterprise districts as effectively, like Downtown Flushing and the Hub within the South Bronx, by bringing loosened conversion rules to districts outdoors the Manhattan CBD. Again in Manhattan, the report requires evaluating housing potentialities within the manufacturing districts on the island’s far west facet.
Among the many report’s different suggestions embody eliminating parking necessities for residential conversions outdoors Manhattan and to loosen rules on courtyards which have snagged hotel-to-home conversions. Metropolis leaders, including Adams, had huge plans to convert underutilized lodge space into housing, however the opportunity seems to have passed as lodge occupancy recovers to pre-pandemic ranges.
The plan comes simply weeks after Hizzoner introduced a “moonshot” purpose of constructing 500,000 new properties within the metropolis over the following decade.
This text has been up to date with an announcement from the governor’s office.