Community Alerts

From Office to Housing: A Policy Update

Sep 9, 2023
From Office to Housing: A Policy Update

The city has come back to life since its shuttering in 2019, but commuting patterns and the workplace remain considerably altered. According to a recent report by REBNY, Manhattan commutes (Tuesday through Thursday) during the first five months of 2023 have only recovered to 73% of the pre-pandemic levels. This shift away from office use, combined with NYC’s housing shortage, is prompting New York City to consider converting office buildings into much needed housing.

The Adams Administration and the Department of City Planning (DCP) recently proposed three initiatives to make converting vacant office buildings into housing easier (full press release here).

1.  “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” Plan

This DCP Plan proposes a number of changes to zoning in the city. These changes include expanding opportunities to build different housing types, such as small apartment buildings and shared housing models; allowing buildings with affordable housing to be bigger than market-rate buildings in most medium- and high-density districts; expanding zoning regulations that facilitate conversions; and reducing parking requirements. Learn more about the plan here.

2. Office Conversion Accelerator

This new city program aims to simplify the office to housing conversion process by providing “building owners with a single point of contact within city government to help ensure office conversion projects can be completed in a Code-compliant and timely manner.” The resource is available for property owners with an office building capable of producing more than 50 units of housing. Learn more about the accelerator here.

3. Midtown South Mixed-Use Plan

The Midtown South Mixed-Use Plan (MSMX) is meant to allow for more housing in the 42-block area between West 40th Street and West 23rd Street and between Fifth Avenue and Eighth Avenue. The area is currently zoned for manufacturing. DCP will begin community engagement for the plan this fall. Learn more about the plan here.

Photo Credit: Emiliano Bar