The Council enabled the development of large amounts of affordable housing in 2017, with a focus on both depth of affordability and developing neighborhoods holistically. From Far Rockaway to East Midtown, the Council ensured that a community would not increase in size without adequate infrastructure investments.
Making New York More Affordable
In East Harlem, the Council led a community-based planning process with neighborhood stakeholders, which created a rezoning framework that allowed for a modest increase in residential density while guaranteeing affordable housing development and preserving the existing character of the community. As a result of the rezoning, almost 4,000 affordable apartments are projected to be developed. The planning process also defined priorities that went beyond the built environment, which led to commitments totaling $222 million in new investment for El Barrio/East Harlem, including support for public housing, open space, and balanced economic development.
In Downtown Far Rockaway, the Council rezoned a neighborhood to allow new affordable housing development, with almost 1,600 units of affordable housing projected to be developed. In addition, there will be $126 million in other investments in neighborhood schools, parks, and libraries, plus streetscape and sewer upgrades. Additionally, the rezoning established an urban renewal area to facilitate affordable housing development and provided support for the creation of a community land trust.
In the Bronx, as part of the Lower Concourse North project, the Council secured a commitment to develop 1,045 affordable apartments paired with major investments in both existing and new open space as well as the development of a new 570-seat school. And in East New York and Brownsville, the rezoning of Ebenezer Plaza and Linden Boulevard will result in over 1,000 new units of deeply affordable housing, plus new retail and community facility spaces.
Equitably Enhancing the City’s Economy
The Council’s 2017 rezoning of East Midtown will likely result in more than 14 million square feet of new commercial development, which will allow the heart of the City’s economic engine to expand for years to come. Furthermore, the Council took significant steps to empower small businesses and the industrial sector, which offer many opportunities for people of color and immigrants. Through the restriction of new self-storage facilities in Industrial Business Zones, the Council took an important step in preserving siting opportunities for industrial businesses in New York City.
The Council also released a blueprint for addressing the longstanding issues of facing the storefront retail and restaurant sector with its 2017 report, “Planning for Retail Diversity,” a 20-point plan on aiding the sector with comprehensive retail planning, land use changes, and new financial tools.
Protecting the Public Realm
The Council took major action to protect the public realm in 2017. The Council passed legislation to reform the regulation of the 3.2 million square feet of privately owned public space in the City, much of which is of poor quality or inaccessible to the public, with increased transparency and accountability. Additionally, through the rezoning of East Midtown, the Council required that developers make major commitments to the public realm in exchange for building taller buildings, such as investments in the subway system, the creation of new privately owned public spaces, and the preservation of landmarks.