NYC must curb landmarking for affordability’s sake: OPINION

September 27, 2013 03:46PM

New York City should halt the “dizzying proliferation of historic districts” and improve the public-review process for the sake of affordable housing, a Crain’s editorial asserted.

The judgement comes in reaction to the release of a Real Estate Board of New York study on landmarking’s impact on the creation of affordable housing. According to the study, only five new affordable units — out of 8,100 overall — have been created since 2003 in Manhattan neighborhoods where work must align with the Landmark Preservation Commission’s requirements.

“Historic areas tend to be pricier and have less vacant land, but there can be no doubt that the extra expense, paperwork and architectural restrictions imposed by the landmarks commission precludes the construction of affordable housing,” the editorial goes on to say. “Even counting renovations, the number of affordable units developed in landmarked Manhattan buildings was just 119 — none south of 87th Street.”

And while landmarking historical property “has its place,” according to the editorial, it doesn’t help “the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are doubled-up, tripled-up, already homeless or at risk of being so.”

“They need dignified, affordable shelter, not fabrications of vintage cornices, eyebrow dormers and ornamental balusters,” the editorial quipped. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland