Increasing landmark designations hurts housing development and diversity

REBNY continues to have major concerns about the impacts on housing and economic development due to the increasing amount of landmark designations, particularly historic districts, throughout the City.  Until recently, most people did not know that nearly 30 percent of all properties in Manhattan are covered by some form of landmark designation.  REBNY decided to look at these landmarked properties to determine its impact on housing production and especially affordable housing.

REBNY’s analysis found that since 2008, zero units of affordable housing have been constructed within Manhattan’s landmark districts, with only five units built since 2003. During this same 10 year period, there were 8,070 affordable housing units built borough-wide.  Furthermore, only 1.9 percent (or 998 units) of the 53,220 new residential units were built on landmarked properties.   The analysis also found that the designated areas had higher incomes, fewer rental units and was substantially less ethnically and racially diverse than non-designated areas or Manhattan as a whole.

These findings make it clear that landmarking and affordable housing are not compatible.  De facto density restrictions, landmark compliance costs, and a lengthy public review processes create an environment that makes the construction of housing, and in particular affordable housing, nearly impossible.  When landmark advocates stand up and say that an area must be landmarked to prevent new development, we and the City need to understand larger impacts from that lost development on our city and our society.

Landmark preservation has been an important contribution to our City’s civic identity, international appeal, and cultural vibrancy. However, the proliferation of historic districts and historic district extensions, all of which frequently contain buildings of questionable merit, now cripples housing development and threatens the City’s diversity. We urge the City and its elected officials to establish an appropriate balance between landmark preservation and our City’s housing and affordable housing needs. The administration of the Landmarks Law must responsibly consider the overall best interest of the City and provide appropriate flexibility to accommodate the City’s growing population, aging infrastructure, changing climate and evolving economy.

To view REBNY’s full analysis, go to

In other REBNY News:

Fred Harris, EVP of Development, for New York City Housing Authority, will be the featured speaker at REBNY’s Commercial Division Sales Brokers/Finance Committee Luncheon from Noon to 2 pm Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 at The Cornell Club, 6 East 44th Street. Harris will talk about the program he is spearheading to solicit interest from developers to construct 4,000 new rental units on 14 sites surrounding eight existing Manhattan NYCHA properties, all south of 110th Street. REBNY members are $65 per person to be paid at the door by check, credit or cash. Non-REBNY members are permitted only as a guest of a REBNY member. For registration, contact Desiree Jones,

The Commercial Brokerage Division Seminar Committee presents “Is West the Best?” A Seminar on the Development of the Far West Side from 8-10 am on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 in the Mendik Education Center at REBNY, 570 Lexington Ave. Join us for a panel discussion about the attractiveness of the planned large scale re-development on the Far West Side of Manhattan. Ann Weisbrod, President of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, will lead the discussion and inform attendees about what exactly is taking place there and what are some of the most important benefits and features that are drawing developers, investors, tenants and ultimately home owners, renters, shoppers and tourists to the area. She will be joined by panelists Todd Kahn, General Counsel SVP at Coach; Dean J. Shapiro, Managing Director of Oxford Properties; and Philip Wharton, SVP of Development at Brookfield Properties Corp. REBNY members are $10 and non-members are $15. Register online For more information, email