Journal Article

Flexibility and Conversions in New York City's Housing Stock: Building for an Era of Rapid Change

Abstract: Post-COVID, New York City faces reduced demand for commercial space in its central business districts, even as residential demand is resurgent. Just as in past eras of New York’s history, conversion of commercial spaces into housing may help the city adapt to these new market conditions and provide an additional pathway for producing badly needed housing. If 10 percent of office and hotel spaces were converted to residential use, around 75,000 homes would be created, concentrated in Midtown Manhattan. However, there are considerable obstacles to such conversions, including a slew of regulatory barriers. Allowing greater flexibility in building uses—including by reducing the distinction between short- and long-term use and rethinking the separation of uses embedded in the city’s zoning code—could help facilitate these shifts.

Keywords: cities; housing; commercial real estate; Conversion; regulatory barriers; COVID; New York City;

JEL Classification: R31; R33; R38;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Part of Series: Economic Policy Review

Publication Date: 2023-10-01

Volume: 29

Issue: 2

Pages: 53-74