The Real Deal New York

Less housing production, racial diversity in historic districts

Landmarks Law was enacted exactly 50 years ago
April 20, 2015 08:00AM

Housing production is lower in the city’s landmarked districts and their populations are usually less racially diverse than the rest of the city, according to a new Real Estate Board of New York report.

While the median household income in Manhattan is $63,832 with a racial diversity index of .68, Capital New York reported, those averages in completely landmarked neighborhoods are $123,800 and .28. In areas where more than 80 percent of the property is landmarked, the median household income is $113,665 and the diversity index is .32, the report found, according to the website.

In Brooklyn, however, areas that are fully landmarked show more racial diversity and a lower median household income than the rest of the borough.

“Preservation has been vital to the city’s economy,”  president of The New York Landmark Conservancy Peg Breen told the Wall Street Journal. “Ladies Mile and Tribeca were saved and are now thriving commercial districts.”

REBNY’s report also found that housing production in historic districts lags behind the rest of the city.

“If landmarking practices of the previous decade continue, and without a serious look at the rules that govern development in historic districts, New York City runs the risk of further inhibiting housing production and preventing the City from meeting the housing needs of its growing population,” the report stated. “The problem is exacerbated due to regulations that largely limit the transfer of a landmark’s unused development rights to an adjacent receiving site.”

In the 50 years since the Landmarks Law was signed — it turned 50 on Sunday — the city preserved 33,411 properties and 135 historic districts, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“We support responsible landmarking,” A REBNY spokesperson told the newspaper. “We want to see changes to the process to help streamline the experience of owners.” [Capital NY] and [WSJ] — Claire Moses