The Real Deal New York

Preservationists lambast REBNY affordable housing data

October 28, 2013 02:45PM

UPDATED, 6:30 p.m., Oct. 28: A group of affordable housing, neighborhood and preservation advocates lashed out at the Real Estate Board of New York today, gathering in front of the organization’s headquarters at 570 Lexington Avenue to protest its “sham attack on landmarking.”

The assembled crowd took issue with REBNY’s recently released report finding that only five of the 53,000 units of affordable apartments created in the past 10 years were in buildings that were landmarked.

However, speakers at the event contended, the process of landmarking can actually protect the social and economic diversity of neighborhoods.

REBNY’s claims are “hypocritical given their opposition to other efforts to preserve the diversity of New York’s neighborhoods,” the groups said in a statement.

Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation pointed to two affordable housing developments that secured landmark designation — Westbeth at 55 Bethune Street in the West Village and 505 Laguardia Place in Greenwich Village — as evidence that landmarking can preserve affordability.

“REBNY opposes landmark protections because they want to preserve their ability to tear down and build anything they want, anywhere, any time, no matter the consequences for our city or our neighborhoods,” he said in a release.

REBNY, however, defended the report’s findings in a statement to The Real Deal.

“The data and facts clearly show that only five affordable units have been built over the last 10 years in landmark districts in Manhattan and less than 2 percent of all the housing built in Manhattan was in landmark districts,” Steven Spinola, president of REBNY, said. “Creating large, poor quality historic districts covering hundreds of blocks clearly takes away the opportunity to build housing. We would hope that the next mayor and City Council would take into account the impact on affordable housing when it considers future historic districts.” — Julie Strickland

  • Sh!t My Tenants Say

    These guys want more affordable housing AND more landmarking? Are these units going to appear form out of a hat or something?
    How does landmarking protect anything than one groups idea of ascetics? Landmarking makes LESS housing supply. We are going to need to make (a/k/a DEVELOP) new units of affordable housing, not pretend rent stabilization creates affordable housing.

  • LibertyPlease

    Remove all landmarking and let the market determine the future. Tear down old, inefficient buildings and erect modern, efficient ones with more units. Take away all the impediments to growth and you’ll see supply go up and rent come down – all by the magic of the free market. You central planners have had your chance. You have failed – because economic laws cannot be broken without consequences.

    The hypocrisy of the do-gooders is almost funny. I walk through Chinatown and see virtually zero diversity – yet nobody is running around like chicken little suggesting we do something about it. “Economic diversity” is a political line. There is absolutely no evidence that “diversity” for the sake of “diversity” has any positive impact on society. Let people live their own lives and stop treating individuals like faceless parts of some monolithic group.

    • The problem itself is not landmarking and preservation, its doing so without providing for the inevitable increase in rent. If rent stabilization still applied to more buildings and tenants were protected from illegal evictions, many of these housing pricing problems could be avoided.