On Thursday, Sept. 21, New York City Mayor Eric Adams delivered an address in which he outlined the administration’s proposal for zoning reforms to increase housing production throughout New York City. The initiative, dubbed “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity,” seeks to achieve dramatic change by encouraging “a little more housing in every neighborhood.”
The mayor’s address highlighted the following potential zoning changes:
- Universal Affordability Preference. Under a new “Universal Affordability Preference,” existing buildings would be allowed to be enlarged by up to 20%, as long as the new units are affordable.
- Office Conversions. Current regulations that facilitate the residential conversion of existing commercial buildings would be expanded to apply to a significantly larger class of properties. These regulations apply today only to pre-1961 buildings or pre-1977 buildings in specified areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The proposal would expand eligibility for these regulations to pre-1990 buildings located anywhere in the city, in districts where residential uses are allowed. The proposal would also allow commercial buildings to be converted to a wider range of housing types, including “shared housing” in which units share kitchens and other facilities. (Our earlier client alert on this measure can be found here.)
- Reduced Parking Requirements. Parking requirements for new housing would be reduced or eliminated — meaning that parking would be optional, but not required, in many neighborhoods.
- Low-Density District Reforms. Housing restrictions in low-density districts would be relaxed. Regulations that currently prohibit mixed-use buildings in certain areas would be modified to allow new housing (two to four stories) above existing businesses. To produce more transit-oriented development, three-to-five-story apartment buildings would be allowed on large lots located either on a wide street or at an intersection near public transit. In addition, homeowners would be allowed to add “accessory dwelling units” to underutilized spaces in one- and two-family homes.
- Campus Infill. Existing bulk regulations would be simplified to allow campuses with underutilized space to add infill housing.
The “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” proposal is expected to commence the formal public review process in spring 2024. Stay tuned for a more detailed report on the proposed measures next month, when the Department of City Planning is expected to issue its draft scope of work for the Environmental Impact Statement.