Victory! Budget Agreement Excludes Supersized Residential Development Proposal

The budget agreement with state legislative leaders announced last night by Governor Hochul EXCLUDES her proposal to lift the long-standing cap on the allowable size of residential development in NYC, which would have allowed the City to rezone any residential neighborhood to permit new development with the sky as the limit. This was in fact a very real danger, as many city leaders and powerful forces in real estate have said that if they could, they would like to upzone city neighborhoods to well above the already incredibly generous limit that currently exists, which has allowed buildings 1,550 feet tall and of nearly 1,500 units. 

This is the third time Village Preservation has helped lead successful efforts to block the lifting of the residential FAR or density cap. In response to proposals to remove the long-standing safeguard via the State budget process, this year and last Village Preservation’s campaign to oppose the measure generated more than 130,000 letters to legislators across the state urging that the measure be rejected. A special thanks goes to State Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Grace Lee, and State Senator Liz Krueger, for helping to lead and organize opposition to this measure in the legislature. 

Village Preservation had argued vociferously against lifting the cap, noting that it allows an additional 2.7 billion sq. ft. of new residential development — the equivalent of 1,200 Empire State Buildings, and enough to house an additional 5 million residents — thus belying proponents of removing the cap’s claim that it’s needed to allow sufficient housing production in NYC. Allowing for vastly larger-sized developments encourages the demotion of existing affordable rent-regulated housing, which disproportionately houses less-well-off and older city residents. And while new, much larger or taller buildings may contain more space, given the demand for enormously sized super-luxury apartments, frequently they actually contain fewer units of housing than the smaller buildings they replace, to say nothing of containing vastly more expensive housing. The proposed lifting of the residential FAR cap would not have required the production of a single unit of affordable housing.

In response to the agreement, Village Preservation released a statement which said in part: “The state legislature did the right thing in rejecting this unnecessary and damaging proposal. It would have only resulted in more supertall, superluxury buildings for the super rich, encouraged the demolition of existing affordable rent-regulated housing, and promoted gentrification, overdevelopment, and displacement on steroids in New York City. This measure not only wouldn’t have helped, it would have added to our city’s affordability crisis. It’s time for the Governor and other state leaders to look at real measures for preserving and growing our stock of affordable housing, rather than promoting giant giveaways to the real estate industry that primarily produce huge amounts of very expensive market-rate housing in the hope that the benefits will ‘trickle down’ to average New Yorkers and those most in need.” 

This victory is NOT permanent. Governor Hochul has indicated she may take up this and other measures not adopted in the budget separately during the remainder of the legislative session, which ends July 1. And without a doubt, the forces aligned to seek to remove thus responsible guardrail around development in NYC will be back to seek its removal again and again, so we MUST continue this fight. 

More information can be found here and here


May 1, 2023