Landmarking inhibits affordable housing: REBNY

LPC's Peg Breen and REBNY's Steven Spinola
LPC's Peg Breen and REBNY's Steven Spinola

Long opposed to what it calls a pattern of overzealous landmarking in New York City, the Real Estate Board of New York is refocusing its argument through the lens of affordable housing.

Landmarked areas, now encompassing nearly 30 percent of Manhattan, have seen almost zero new affordable housing built in the last decade, according to a new REBNY study. According to the interest group’s data, only five of the 53,000 units of affordable apartments created over the last 10 years in Manhattan were in buildings that were landmarked.

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Neighborhood and civic advocates won the battle of public opinion during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure, framing the issue of landmarking as opposition to an onslaught of new glass-and-steel gentrification. REBNY’s new populist spin comes just as mayoral front-runner Bill De Blasio has won support for his plans to increase the city’s affordable housing stock.

Just last week the Landmarks Preservation Commission launched the process of landmarking five Midtown East buildings. Without such protection, the spots could serve as development sites under the new Midtown East rezoning plan. As landmarking would limit the purpose of the rezoning, REBNY has opposed it.

“Landmarking is part of the law and recognized as a public good,” Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, told Crain’s. “The law has a process where landmarks are debated in a public forum and there is plenty of opportunity within the current process for both advocates and critics to voice their opinion on a landmarking and have their perspective heard.” [Crain’s]Julie Strickland