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January 30, 2004

NYC Housing Boom- Zoning to Kill It?

While Manhattan mostly is building luxury housing, a boom in middle class housing construction is sweeping the outer boroughs.

Six and seven story apartments are going up in Brooklyn, new housing in the Bronx-- often driven by new immigrant communities and local developers. Strikingly, because of increased zoning restrictions in the suburbs, New York City is now the main locus of new housing starts in the region:

According to the Census Bureau figures, the total of new home construction in 2000 through 2003 rose 77 percent in New York City over the previous four years, while it increased by 2.4 percent in the rest of the metropolitan area. The city's share of new-home permits rose to 32 percent from 21 percent. Outside the city, the number of new homes approved last year 37,180 was slightly lower than in the year before, and remained 15 percent below the peak year of 2000.

Robert D. Yaro, president of the Regional Planning Association, an independent planning group, said the permits data reflected two trends. Many outer suburbs are "pulling up the drawbridge" out of concern for overburdened schools and services, he said, and rezoning to require larger lots or converting residential lots for commercial and industrial development.

But now the zoners are coming into New York City and the boom in new housing is threatened with a bust:
But as developers take advantage of these zoning rights, tearing down homes to build bigger or taller buildings, they face growing opposition. The city is studying proposals to limit the development of six- and seven-story buildings on low-rise streets in Bensonhurst, and has recently restricted building rights in most residential neighborhoods on Staten Island.

One result of that zoning change, which took effect in December, can be seen in the building permit data. In both October and November, according to Building Department data, twice as many permits were issued as in September, as some developers rushed to begin construction before the change took effect.

You have families that can barely feed their children because housing prices are so high in the city and here you finally have new housing being built to address the housing shortage. And the zoning officials are rushing to kill that building energy and any chance of affordable housing in the City.

Posted by Nathan at January 30, 2004 07:07 AM