BBG News

City of Yes for Housing Opportunity Moves Forward

Oct 17, 2023

New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced the launch of efforts to address the current housing shortage through the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity. The proposal, which is planned to undergo formal public review under the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) in spring 2024, aims to create more housing to meet the current demand and lower housing costs.

According to the Mayor’s Office, the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will lead to an additional 100,000 homes for over 250,000 residents.

In furtherance of the proposal, on October 26th, the New York City Department of City Planning will continue an environmental review to study the impacts of the proposal, including hosting a public scoping meeting to allow the public an opportunity to voice their opinions.

Although details of the proposed zoning text are not yet available, the Mayor’s announcement outlined major components of the current proposal, which briefly include:

  • Universal Affordability Preference: This builds on the Affordable Independent Residence for Seniors (AIRS) program, which permits buildings to be 20% larger than other types of housing with the inclusion of affordable senior housing. The Universal Affordability Preference seeks to extend zoning incentives to other types of affordable housing, in addition to senior housing.
  • Office to Residential Conversions: Currently, buildings constructed after 1961 or 1977, depending on their location, are limited in their ability to be converted from office to residential use. The plan seeks to loosen existing restrictions to facilitate the conversion of all buildings constructed before 1990 and would expand conversion eligibility to any zoning district in the City where residential uses are permitted.
  • Shared Living: Certain zoning regulations may make it difficult for property owners to offer apartments with shared common facilities, including kitchens and bathrooms. In an effort to lower housing costs, this proposal would, in part, authorize the construction of smaller-sized apartments with shared kitchen or bathroom facilities.
  • Town Center Zoning: In an effort to encourage mixed-use communities, this aspect of the proposal would allow between two and four stories of residential development to be built over existing commercial spaces.
  • Removing Parking Mandates: Currently, in several zoning districts, there is a requirement to provide parking spaces accessory to new housing units. Through this proposal, parking mandates for new housing would be eliminated.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units: This opportunity would allow for the construction of an additional dwelling unit, similar to a backyard cottage, garage conversion, or basement unit, of up to 800 square feet on one and two-family properties.
  • Transit-Oriented Development: Currently, in certain portions of the City, zoning regulations prohibit the construction of multi-family buildings in locations that are accessible to public transportation. This proposal would enable the construction of three to five-story apartment buildings on large lots that are located near public transit stops.
  • Campuses: In certain situations, zoning regulations prohibit school campuses from utilizing their extra space, which may otherwise be suitable for housing development. The Mayor discussed an opportunity to ease these restrictions and authorize campuses to maximize their ability to construct buildings as long as it’s appropriate in their surrounding environment.

In addition to the development opportunities offered by the City of Yes, the Mayor has also recently announced two other initiatives intended to encourage residential development. These include the Midtown South Neighborhood Plan, which seeks to rezone 42 blocks in Manhattan’s Midtown South, currently zoned for manufacturing use. The other initiative is the launch of an Office Conversion Accelerator to expedite office-to-housing conversion projects across the City.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding the components of the Mayor’s announcements or would like to discuss any land use, zoning and real estate development issues, please contact your attorney of record or contact us here.

Written by:  Ron Mandel, Partner in the Firm’s Transactional Department.

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