The Daily Dirt: Breaking down NYC’s office conversion options

Analysis of New York’s top real estate news

The Daily Dirt Breaks Down NYC’s Office Conversion Options
City Planning’s Dan Garodnick and Gov. Kathy Hochul (Getty)

The state did not act on office conversions, so the city will need to take the long road. 

That road involves a bit of legislative gymnastics. The Adams administration aims to expand the universe of buildings that can be converted from office to residential use, and wants to make such changes citywide.

The state legislature could have done that more easily by lifting the cap on residential floor-area-ratio and expanding existing conversion rules to pre-1990 office buildings. The current cutoff is 1977. Neither proposal came to a vote in Albany last session.

In most of the city, office buildings constructed after 1961 cannot be converted into residential space. The city can change that threshold, as it did for Lower Manhattan (to 1977), and hopes to do so by moving the date up to 1990.

What it cannot do is free office buildings constructed after 1977 from the FAR cap, which is baked into the state’s Multiple Dwelling Law. The city also cannot change building code requirements enumerated in that law, though I’m told zoning is the largest hurdle these conversion projects face. Creating a tax incentive program for such conversions also falls to the state.

The city’s planned changes would be part of a broader text amendment, which is expected to get underway next year. 

What we’re thinking about: What will happen with Fortis Property Group’s tower at 161 Maiden Lane? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned: I thought all I had to worry about was brain-eating amoeba, but apparently this is a thing too: A live three-inch parasitic worm was found in a woman’s brain by doctors in Australia, the New York Times reports

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Elsewhere in New York…

— City health officials say a new Covid variant, BA.2.86, was found in NYC wastewater, Gothamist reports. It is not yet clear how effective updated booster shots will be against the variant.

— The NYPD will use drones to monitor large gatherings this weekend, the Associated Press reports. “If a caller states there’s a large crowd, a large party in a backyard, we’re going to be utilizing our assets to go up and go check on the party,” Kaz Daughtry, assistant NYPD commissioner, said at a press conference.

— Gov. Kathy Hochul called her meeting with the Biden administration a “critical first step” in securing more federal support to address the migrant crisis, the New York Daily News reports. The administration promised to “provide personnel, data and resources” to help find migrants who are eligible for work permits. “This is a critical first step, but make no mistake: It is not enough to fully address this crisis or provide the level of support that New Yorkers need and deserve,” the governor said.

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential closing Thursday was $26 million for a townhouse at 7 Sutton Square in Sutton Place.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $9 million for a mixed-use building at 346 Maujer Street in Williamsburg.

New to the Market: The priciest residence to hit the market Thursday was a townhouse at 34 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village asking $25 million. Sothebys has the listing.