Real Estate Developers have long been the target of elected officials in New York. Politicians would say they were protecting a neighborhoods character and property values while routinely quashing good projects.
What has changed is a real housing shortage and an affordability crisis. Politicians may not be such fervent critics of the real estate industry much longer if they want those serious housing problems solved.
For example, a number of City Council members have embraced new developments, even in cases where most of the units would not be affordable for working class New Yorkers.
Tiffany Caban, Councilwoman in Queens voted for a project to bring 1,300 apartments to her district saying “Not approving the project known as Hallets North, would risk letting the lot languish as a truck depot or parking lot for delivery vehicles which is wholly irresponsible, especially when we have a housing crisis”.
The real estate industry is lucrative and has an influential force in New York politics. Mayor Eric Adams is receptive to New York real estate developers needs. However, a lot of power is wielded by members of the City Council who decide on the fate of new projects with considerations that vary by neighborhood. Council members want concessions from developers that benefit their communities such as Parks and Community space.
There does seem to be political momentum behind the new housing movement. There is a shortage of homes available to a wide range of income levels, but mostly lacking for lower income New Yorkers.
According to Maria Tprres- Springer, Deputy Mayor for economic and work force development “If we postpone the types of actions and investments and courage that is needed to address our housing crisis, we're not just undermining the well being of families but we're undermining the recovery of our economy and long term recovery as a city”.
In Central Brooklyn, Council Woman Crystal Hudson had previously shut down a project in Prospect Heights but after taking time to review it she cast her vote to support two 17 story towers with more than 400 apartments. Ms. Hudson had to settle for 35% of the units rented at below market rates instead of 50% to get this deal done saying “We can only fight for the best project possible”.
According to Annemarie Gray, a former land use advisor for the city who is now the Executive Director of Open New York, a pro housing group “I really do think things are shifting, housing politics both in the city and the country are changing”.
Ms. Torres-Springer says “Broader neighborhood rezoning efforts that could make way for a larger number of new homes have yet to take shape”.
According to David Lombino, a Managing Director of Two Trees Management, a developer, “I think supply is needed on such a scale and I think folks aren't ready to see the scale that's required to fix the supply problem”.
To be continued...
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