Push Begins Again to Overturn State Law Allowing Supersized Development in NYC — Help Us Fight It!

Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, the Real Estate lobby, and upzoning advocates are again pushing the state legislature to lift the long-standing cap on the allowable size of residential developments in New York City, which would enrich developers and destroy the scale of neighborhoods. These government, business, and real estate leaders are calling for lifting the cap that limits the size of individual new residential developments — implemented in the post–Robert Moses era — with specious arguments about housing shortages and affordability.

The truth is, the proposal to lift the cap wouldn’t result in or require the creation of a single unit of affordable housing. And it’s based on the premise that the supertalls of Billionaire’s Row — built under the existing cap — aren’t big enough, and that current zoning, designed to allow NYC to grow to 12 million people (almost 50% more than the current city’s population, which has declined precipitously since Covid), doesn’t afford New York enough room to grow. In fact, huge upzonings, like the ones lifting the cap would allow, encourage the demolition of affordable, rent-regulated housing that shelters longtime residents, who are disproportionately lower income and older.

Former Mayor de Blasio and former Governor Cuomo also advocated for lifting the decades-old, very generous cap on the size of allowable residential development in NYC — long at the top of the wishlist of the real estate industry. We’ve beaten that effort back before (see also here), but old and new forces are now pushing stronger than ever for this ultimate developer prize. And neighborhoods across New York City could all pay the price, as it would allow the city to zone for bigger-than-Billionaire’s-Row residential developments anywhere in the city.


January 23, 2023