Land Use chair: landmarking undercuts affordable housing

David Greenfield says surge in special designation coincides with rising housing costs

From left: David Greenfield and Robert Tierney
From left: David Greenfield and Robert Tierney

The Bloomberg administration’s landmarking flurry is partly to blame for the challenge of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 200,000 units of affordable housing goal over the next decade, according to the new chairman of City Council’s Land Use committee.

The uptick in landmarked buildings in the city’s historic districts has been shown to coincide with the rising value of homes in those neighborhoods, David Greenfield said at a Thursday Land Use hearing. Developers and others in the real estate industry have similarly complained about what they call overzealous landmarking. Some suspect the policy also aims to stifle development by restricting the scale of new structures in landmarked areas to those of existing buildings.

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“None of us exists in a vacuum,” Greenfield said to Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Robert Tierney Thursday. “In the grand scheme of the city we are very focused on affordable housing … those are two competing interests.”

Historic districts made up 2 percent of New York City and 10 percent of Manhattan as of March 2013, according to a past report from the Wall Street Journal, and the Real Estate Board of New York released a report finding that of July, 27.7 percent of Manhattan had been landmarked.

Greenfield told Crain’s via email that some projects have been under consideration for landmarking for decades, calling the situation “unacceptable.” He added his view that the commission should “have a clear standard on the length of considering a project, and if they cannot meet those guidelines they should withdraw the project from consideration.” [Crain’s]Julie Strickland