The New York City task committee on adaptive reuse of dead office facilities has predicted that up to 20,000 dwelling units might be produced from these spaces. In order for this to occur, building owners must choose residential use and zoning modifications must be adopted to permit other uses, such as hotel or educational space. Despite the zoning amendments, hotel developers would still require special approval to transform the offices into hotels.
Dan Garodnick, chair of the City Planning Commission, has stated that the most important regulatory change under consideration is one that would grant more flexibility to offices constructed prior to December 31, 1990 – outside of Lower Manhattan, these rules only apply to buildings constructed prior to December 1961, and in Lower Manhattan, buildings constructed prior to 1977 can be converted. This legislative session, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has made it a priority to increase the number of commercial buildings suitable for residential use and provide regulatory relief for such conversions. The city’s task team estimates that this might make 120 million square feet of office space available.
Yesterday, the governor proposed several housing-related initiatives that are likely to face opposition in Albany, but a bill making it simpler to convert offices to residential use has sufficient support to pass. We will keep a close watch on the developments!