The Daily Dirt: Rethinking the mayor’s housing legacy

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

Even before the coronavirus hit, the mayor’s affordable housing program was struggling.

The progress of rezonings planned under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program slowed to a crawl, and changes made to Inwood were nullified by a state court judge. He has less than two years to rezone the remaining nine of the 15 neighborhoods his administration has targeted.

His housing goals — to build or preserve 300,000 apartments by 2026 — may also have a cash-flow problem. De Blasio’s proposed budget includes a $583 million cut to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s capital budget. Though the administration has insisted housing goals remain on track, City Council members predict the cuts will delay financing for 5,000 new affordable units and 15,000 affordable and supportive housing units that would have been preserved.

Now, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is calling for changes to the MIH, as well as the Voluntary Inclusionary Housing program. In a release issued last Friday, she noted that she was the only borough president to support MIH.

“I did so with a guarantee from the mayor that he would continue to make changes in the program and would also make changes to the Voluntary Inclusionary Housing Program (IHP),” she said in a statement. “This is the moment to hold him accountable to his promises, to re-envision MIH and IHP with more affordable units at deeper affordability levels.”

She also notes that she believes government subsidies shouldn’t be the only force generating new affordable units.

Brewer has spoken out against the mayor’s initiatives before — she was vehemently opposed to the Lenox Terrace rezoning. So, it’s no surprise that she would weigh in on the HPD budget cuts and the administration’s larger affordable housing goals. That could perhaps put some additional pressure on the mayor to restore some of HPD’s funding.

But today’s announcement is also the latest example of a public official stepping away from the outgoing mayor and signaling that a signature policy of his administration isn’t working. Whoever takes over for de Blasio will need to figure out what to do with MIH and the stalled rezonings — along with a slew of other issues, including NYPD reform.

If the last few weeks are any indication, mayoral candidates — as well as those running for other city positions — will likely frame their candidacies, in part, around how best to reform or dismantle de Blasio’s policies. The debate around MIH is just about to start.

What we’re thinking about: What will the appellate court decide in the case against the four towers planned for Two Bridges? Send predictions to


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Friday was for a condo unit at 275 West 10th Street in the West Village, at $14.1 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a seven-story building at 410 Madison Avenue, at $115 million in Midtown East. JPMorgan Chase was the buyer, and Bank of China was the seller.

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The largest new building filing of the day was for a 5,626-square-foot residential building at 540 Willoughby Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Isaac Broyn of B&B Global Development filed the permit application.


The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 66 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, at $26.5 million. Nest Seekers has the listing.

— Research by Orion Jones

A thing we’ve learned…

Looking for an escape? Do you, as one does, have $300,000 just lying around? Well, apparently you can rent an ENTIRE resort in the Bahamas at that price. Kahari Resort is available in August, and it features 13 bungalows on 45 acres.

“You can get the entire compound, including food and water sports, for the price of a single Hamptons rental,” Douglas Elliman’s Neal Sroka, told the New York Post. Thank you to Amir Korangy, for sending over this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— The city is once again asking the state to grant it borrowing authority, Politico New York reports. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has scaled back its request to $5 billion from $7 billion. The city was barred from borrowing money to cover operating expenses after the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Albany rejected the city’s initial request weeks ago.

— The Nation has issued an “unendorsement” of de Blasio, the New York Post reports. The magazine had endorsed the mayor in 2013. “At the time, we were a lonely voice pronouncing his progressive potential. But de Blasio became mayor in large part on his promise to reform the NYPD,” the editors wrote Friday. “Seven years later, his response to the most vital racial justice uprising in decades has been a stunning betrayal.”

— New York City’s 1.1 million public school students, who had their last day of school Friday, are still unsure whether they will return to school for in-person learning in September, Gothamist reports. Meanwhile, New Jersey and Connecticut have already released plans for reopening schools in the next school year. “The answer (to) when do we have an exact plan, it’s when we feel we have enough information to lock one down,” the mayor said during a press briefing Friday.