May 6, 2014
Reiss on de Blasio Housing Plan
Law360.com quoted me in Developers, Attys Embrace De Blasio’s $41B Housing Plan (behind a paywall). It reads in part,
Real estate attorneys and their developer clients are cautiously optimistic about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new affordable housing plan, lauding its concrete objectives while noting that regulatory and financial hurdles could stall some of the most ambitious elements.
The mayor unveiled Monday the highly anticipated plan [you can find the plan here], which presents a $41 billion investment in affordable housing. He pledged to encourage affordable housing development by breaking down existing barriers to density, from adding efficiencies to the land use review process, to making better use of subsidies and tax incentives, to changing the multiple dwellings law to allow for higher floor area ratios at residential buildings.
The multifaceted approach appeared to appeal to many in the development community, who are eager to build across the city but have been uncertain in recent months about how the mayor’s plans to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing would align — or compete — with their interests.
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While de Blasio’s new housing plan is mum on details, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said during the press conference Monday that the administration also planned to “take a hard look at where we are able to rezone or upzone to create more opportunities for affordable housing.”
During the last administration, more than 30 percent of the city underwent rezoning, opening up scores of new lots for developers but enraging many community groups and local residents who feared that new market-rate towers would bring with them skyrocketing prices and gentrification.
De Blasio said Monday, however, that while Bloomberg had changed the rules of land use in much of the city, many opportunities remain to increase density — and therefore affordable housing, with mandatory inclusionary zoning — by upzoning additional neighborhoods.
Experts say this may well be one of the most controversial aspects of the plan, though developers and their attorneys generally welcome it. For the most part, they are pleased with the administration’s direction, but the question remains as to whether the plans will be borne out in the face of opposition, said David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who blogs about commercial real estate and housing issues.
“The big debate is: Are we going to have a real commitment to increased density in parts of New York City? And if we don’t, it’s hard to imagine we can really reduce the cost of housing,” he said.| Permalink