Assembly and Senate Reject Supersize Proposal, But Final Budget Battle Not Yet Over

We’re thrilled to report that thanks to the advocacy of thousands of you, both the State Assembly and Senate rejected Governor Hochul’s proposal to include in the new state budget an elimination of the cap on the size of new residential development. This proposal would have allowed NYC to lift the current limit of 12 FAR (floor area ratio) on the size of new residential developments (for context, the 1000+-ft.-tall supertalls of Billionaire’s Row in Midtown were built with zoning allowing a residential FAR of 10). This is a major victory in our efforts to prevent adoption of this measure, which would have allowed NYC to upzone areas to well above currently allowable levels, overwhelming infrastructure and creating vastly oversized development.

But the battle is not over. While the Assembly and Senate’s refusal to include the measure in their budget proposals makes the chances of its adoption through the budget process much less likely, it is still possible. The Governor, Assembly, and Senate must still work out a final budget deal by April 1, which involves each side compromising on their current proposals. Eleventh-hour horse trades and back-room deals will be made, and real estate interests have been pushing for this change for years. Proponents have falsely claimed this measure is necessary to allow conversions of underutilized office buildings or hotels to residences and to create affordable housing. It is not; such conversions can take place regardless, and this measure does not require or guarantee a single unit of affordable housing being created.

If this measure is approved, we will likely see upzonings to above 12 FAR for residential neighborhoods that developers have long eyed. The recent developer giveaway SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown rezoning included allowances for up to 12 FAR in all three neighborhoods; if the cap were lifted, no doubt the allowance would have gone even higher.


March 17, 2022