Find the latest breaking news and information on the top stories, science, business, entertainment, politics, and more.

New York borough presidents want Albany lawmakers to relax rules allowing commercial space to be converted to housing

ALBANY — New York City’s five borough presidents are calling on state legislators to make it easier to convert commercial buildings to residential use as a way to address the city’s housing crisis.

The quintet of local officials wants the Legislature to include changes to the state budget that allow vacant or unused commercial office space to be converted to apartments, as well as tax incentives to encourage the inclusion of affordable units.

“We are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis that will only get worse without legislation that creates new and innovative ideas for housing production,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, a Democrat.

“Providing housing flexibility by allowing the conversion of underutilized commercial real estate will create thousands of new quality, safe and affordable housing units to combat the rise of homelessness in our city,” Gibson said.

The unified call by Gibson and his fellow BPs comes as Gov. Hochul pushes for a complete redesign of how the state approaches housing and development. Mayor Adams has also called for vacant offices to be refurbished in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several business districts in the city, including parts of downtown Manhattan, have struggled to recover from the crisis amid the shift to remote work.

Municipal presidents are supporting the Movement for Housing in the 5 Municipalitiesa coalition calling on lawmakers to remove restrictions limiting conversions.

Buildings, some of them almost empty, in lower Manhattan.

Among the group’s priorities is allowing existing commercial buildings throughout the city, especially in Manhattan below 96th Street, to be converted for residential use.

“Across Manhattan, we are seeing prices rise and supply dwindle, forcing New York families from their homes and communities,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, a Democrat. “Converting some commercial buildings to residential use could increase the supply of affordable housing and seriously help combat this housing crisis.”

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, both Democrats, and Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, a Republican, joined in backing the plan.

New York Daily News front page December 15, 2022: Rescue Plan: Governor and Mayor offer COVID plan to tackle empty offices and build 800,000 homes.

The push comes after Adams and top city planning officials released details about their efforts to convert underutilized office space into apartments in the city’s bustling business districts, including a plan that would allow for the rezoning of millions of square feet of space in office buildings.

A study by the City Planning Department detailing the mayor’s plan shows that zoning changes would be needed to allow for the conversion of buildings built before 1991.

Currently, such office-to-residential conversions are only permitted in buildings in the Financial District built on or before 1977, and buildings in other city business districts built before 1962.

Hochul’s budget plan, released early last month, included much of what Adams and city officials have called for in the way of incentives and rezoning. The governor and the Democratic-led Legislature are currently negotiating the state spending plan ahead of the April 1 fiscal deadline.

The governor’s plan would give developers apartment-office conversion with at least 20% affordable units and a property tax exemption for 19 years.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a press conference in New York City on November 22, 2022.

Projects would receive a full property tax exemption during the construction period and buildings south of 96th Street in Manhattan would get a 50% exemption for 15 years, while properties outside of that area would receive a 35% exemption. % during the same period.

The cut could face pushback from progressive Democrats in the Legislature who have been vocally opposed to granting tax breaks to large developers.

That could curb Hochul’s plans to build 800,000 new residential units in the state over the next decade by limiting commercial conversions.

“We have to get down to business as we seek to create safe, dignified and stable housing for all who call our city home,” Reynoso said.

“It is unnecessary for all this commercial space to sit empty and unused when, by working together and thinking outside the box, we can turn these commercial buildings into hundreds and hundreds of homes for the individuals and families in need.”

Source link