Decrease in Rent Stabilized Units in NYC’s Historic Districts Much Greater than in Non-Landmarked Areas of City

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Over the last seven years, the decline in the number of rent regulated apartments located within New York City's historic districts was four times higher compared to non-landmarked areas of the city, according to a new analysis released today.

The report, published by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), shows the change in the number of rent-stabilized units in landmarked districts vs. non-landmarked areas between 2007 and 2014. Citywide, landmarked properties lost rent stabilized units (-22.5%) at a much higher rate (-5.1%) than non-landmarked properties. The Manhattan and Brooklyn numbers are particularly startling.

Advocates of an aggressive approach to historic preservation have repeatedly asserted that the City’s historic districts help to preserve affordable housing.  This new report shows the opposite is true: in Manhattan, the number of rent-stabilized units in landmarked districts decreased by 24.5% as compared to 11.5% at non-landmarked properties. Brooklyn landmarked properties showed a 27.1% decline in the number of rent-stabilized units compared to 3.4% at non-landmarked properties.

“Affordable housing remains one of our city’s most pressing needs, and these numbers do not show any evidence that landmarking helps to preserve it. This report refutes the notion that historic districts are a good means of preserving existing affordable housing,” said REBNY President John Banks.

The historic districts that had the highest net loss of rent-stabilized units were Greenwich Village (-1432 units) and Upper West Side/Central Park West (-2730 units). Combined, these two historic districts had 30% fewer rent-stabilized units at the end of the seven-year period analyzed.

Typically, the City gains rent regulated units through the construction or conversion of new housing. Previous studies have shown that new housing is less likely to be created in landmarked neighborhoods.

This analysis follows earlier analyses of census data by REBNY that shows:

  • During a ten year period of time (2003-2012) only five new units of affordable housing were built in Manhattan landmark districts, which comprise nearly 30% of the borough. Only 100 new affordable units were constructed in historic districts throughout the City during that timeframe.  This production accounted for 0.29% of all new affordable housing units during that 10-year period.

  • The population in landmarked districts is significantly less diverse in terms of racial and ethnic makeup than the rest of Manhattan, Brooklyn, or New York City as a whole. Additionally, landmarked properties have much higher household incomes, a lower rental population, and smaller household sizes.