On Monday, January 10th, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced plans to convert office buildings to housing units. This would be in an effort to combat the housing problem that the city currently faces. The Adams Administration drew up a plan on the recommendations of a task force that would see the conversion of office buildings into 20,000 new apartments over the next ten years. It would include proposals that will see a reduction in zoning limitations and provide tax breaks for property owners. The plan would target areas such as Manhattan, Downtown Flushing, and the Bronx. It would also see the development of various kinds of housing including housing that would cater to people who have endured homelessness.
“The need for housing is desperate, and the opportunity offered by underused office space is clear,” Adams said in a statement. “These concrete reforms would clear red tape and create the incentives to create the housing we need for New Yorkers at all income levels.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people work, with significant numbers of people working remotely and opting to do so beyond the early stages of the pandemic. The use of office space has decreased drastically. The task force that carried out the study found 20% of Manhattan’s office space was available in the second half of the year, compared to 2019. It also showed that employees spend less time at the office.
The office conversion plan is an idea that both Mayor Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul are keen on making a success. They see the conversion plans as a way of reimagining New York as a vibrant location.
NYC Housing Stats
New York City currently accommodates nearly 70,000 people in its shelters every day. The city is clearly in need of viable housing options, especially for low-income residents. There had been plans to convert empty hotels into apartments but those have never come to fruition. Affordable housing would be welcome because apartments charging below $1500 are almost fully occupied, with an occupation rate above 99%.
New York City Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz said solving the housing crisis would need every tool possible. She considers the potential office conversions a positive development that can be a new source of apartments.