Housing Starts: Making Affordable Housing Beautiful | 421a Proposals | A Surprising Housing Solution

May 12th 2015

A proposed 800-unit condo development in Queens (Photo Credit: Bloomberg Business)

  1. Understand New York’s Current Building Boom in 6 Charts It may seem like new buildings are going up at a breakneck pace in New York City, but a new report from the Furman Center shows that development is still way below pre-crash levels. The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2014 looks at housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life indicators in all five boroughs, and the built environment section puts the current perceived building boom into perspective. [Curbed NY – 05/08/15]
  2. Design Within Overreach: How a Plan to Make Affordable Housing Beautiful Ran into Reality ‘The city has limited resources to build affordable housing, but it also needs to think about the value of urban design, even if it adds to costs,’ said Mark Willis, executive director of New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. ‘Striking the right balance between more housing units and fitting buildings into the fabric of the community falls into a bit of a gray area.’ From the outset, the 13-story Sugar Hill Development was destined to be costly for Broadway Housing Communities, a nonprofit that had previously done only renovation jobs. [Crain’s New York Business – 05/07/15]
  3. The Real NYC Housing Boom Isn’t in Manhattan For all the attention Manhattan’s ultra-luxury condominium towers have captured—with their sky-piercing heights and record-shattering prices—New York City’s largest residential construction boom is in the farther reaches of the outer boroughs. Builders of rental and for-sale housing are being drawn to Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods where land is more plentiful and expenses are lower than across the East River. They’re betting on high demand for their projects as the costs of living in and close to Manhattan continue to climb. [Bloomberg Business – 05/05/15]
  4. Deal Takes Shape for “Mansion Tax” to Move Forward New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for a new tax on the sale of houses, co-ops and condominiums worth more than $1.75 million, part of a wider political deal that would extend tax breaks for developers and create another revenue source for city housing programs. The proposal was endorsed by the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry group long dominated by large developers. ‘It is not what we would have recommended but we are supporting the whole plan because it will create more housing,’ Steven Spinola, president of the real estate board, said of the new tax. [Wall Street Journal – 05/07/15]
  5. Why Billionaires Don’t Pay Property Taxes in New York The formula by which New York assesses property taxes is positively byzantine. A 2011 report on tax burden and distribution from the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy provides a brief history on how it came to be so complicated. It’s easy to see why it’s outmoded: Changes in state law in 1981 yielded the system that’s still in place today. New York law identifies four classes of property for tax purposes. The law fixes the relative share of property taxes that each class pays into municipal coffers—slices of pie whose proportions are more or less fixed. [Atlantic CityLab – 05/09/15]
  6. Tenant Advocates Unsatisfied with De Blasio’s 421-a Proposal The mayor’s proposed changes, which would have to be approved by the state legislature, call for all developments receiving 421-a to build affordable housing; right now, only developments in a small portion of the city are required to do so. De Blasio would also increase the share of affordable apartments in each development from the current 20 percent to 25 or 30 percent. He’d also eliminate 421-a benefits for condos, devote some of the affordable units to lower incomes than are currently served (pushing the income floor from the current $46,600 to $31,000) and eliminate ‘poor door’ separate entrances. [CityLimits – 05/08/15]
  7. So Many Manhattan Apartments, So Few for Sale Despite a construction boom, the inventory of Manhattan homes continues to hover near the record low set in the last quarter of 2013. And unlike the last construction peak, in 2008, when developers generated more supply to meet demand, a number of factors have converged to warp the economics of owning and selling a home in Manhattan—and in the rest of the boroughs—making it more expensive for businesses to retain the highly skilled workers who can keep the city’s economic engine humming. ‘Recruiting talent to support our leading institutions and our universities is increasingly difficult because they can’t afford to live or find suitable housing in Manhattan,’ said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City. [Crain’s New York Business – 05/10/15]
  8. New York Home Flippers Scored Average Returns of 47% in the First Quarter: Report New York City is among the top metro areas for homebuyers who want to flip their properties for maximum profits, according to a new report by housing analytics company RealtyTrac. New York and New Jersey-based home flippers made an average return of investment of 47.1% in the first quarter of 2015, the report shows. They got an average of $392,049 on properties they bought for just $266,447. Home flips made up 3.7% of all sales in the New York and New Jersey metro area. [New York Daily News – 05/07/15]
  9. Market-Rate Development in “TriBoro” Area Hitting 50-year High The development of market-rate residential units in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens is approaching levels not seen since the 1960s, according to a new report that claims such developments are already addressing the needs of ‘moderate and middle-income households’ as described by the city. However, the city needs to redouble its efforts to cater to the three lowest income groups, the report suggests. About 130,000 market-rate rental and condo units are in the ‘TriBoro’ pipeline and slated to come online in the next four years – ‘levels of development not seen in the recent past,’ according to real estate consultancy Nancy Packes Inc., which specializes in marketing rental projects. [The Real Deal – 05/08/15]
  10. A Surprising Solution for City’s Housing Dilemma There’s an inconvenient truth tucked into the environmental sustainability plan for New York that Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled last month: The city needs the suburbs to solve its housing problem. With rents soaring and too few new apartments in the works for the city’s growing population, low-rise communities beyond the five boroughs hold vast potential for multifamily housing along the veins of the region’s public transit network. [Crain’s New York Business – 05/08/15]
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