This year the Real Estate Board of New York plans on pushing Albany to lift a cap that has long limited the size of new apartment buildings in New York City, the trade group’s president said Thursday.
Current state rules restrict the square footage of a residential building to 12 times its lot size. While this has resulted in plenty of tall Manhattan apartment towers, developers have the capability to go much higher. Commercial office buildings are routinely built to twice this density, and some of them have later been converted to apartments.
Unlocking greater density in transit-rich areas could help chip away at the city’s housing crunch and provide affordable housing, said REBNY President John Banks, who represents many of the landlords and developers who would construct the buildings.
Banks envisions allowing buildings to exceed the cap if they are rezoned, which would require going through the public-review process and including affordable housing. It is a concept that both REBNY and others have embraced in the past. Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested nixing the density cap in his 2014 housing plan. And the Regional Plan Association included the idea in its Fourth Regional Plan. In the coming months, RPA is separately planning to release a study and start a push of its own to get rid of the limit.