The next time a New York City developer seeks permission to replace a derelict factory with a shimmering condo tower, the heated swimming pool and sky-lit roof lounge will have to be accompanied by another amenity: affordable housing.
In the most forceful remarks yet of an administration determined to reshape the cityscape, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top planning official declared on Friday that affordable units will be a requirement for any future real estate project requiring a zoning change from the city.
The mandate will apply not only to neighborhood-wide redevelopments, like the earlier transformation of industrial Williamsburg into a residential mecca, but also to individual projects, as when a developer needs a waiver to graft stories onto an apartment tower in Midtown.
“You can’t build one unit unless you build your share of affordable housing,” Carl Weisbrod, chairman of the City Planning Commission, told a packed room of landlords, planners and investors at a New York Law School breakfast on Friday. “You can’t build just market-rate housing, period.”
Aides to Mr. de Blasio, who has pledged to create or preserve 200,000 affordable units in the next decade, have signaled for months that mandates for developers were on the way. But Mr. Weisbrod’s comments provided the clearest glimpse yet of what the city’s plan would mean in practice for the real estate industry, which is still wary of a mayor who has presented a lofty vision for future development but has provided few details on how he plans to achieve it.
Privately, some developers expressed skepticism about the administration’s plan, fearing that the requirements would make it financially difficult to build. While few in real estate criticize the mayor publicly, Mr. Weisbrod acknowledged those concerns, saying the industry was a necessary partner.
In his speech, Mr. Weisbrod said the administration would take steps to ease the bureaucratic burden on developers, such as speeding up the public review process and rolling back other onerous regulations. And he pledged that planning officials would consider new projects on the merits when determining how many affordable units should be included.