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NYC borough presidents hope Albany lawmakers will relax laws enabling conversion of commercial space to residences

By 03/08/2023 8:08 AMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

To ease the housing problem in the city, all five of New York City’s borough presidents are urging state lawmakers to make it simpler to convert commercial buildings to residential usage.

The five municipal leaders are requesting that the Legislature amend the state budget to allow for the conversion of empty or unoccupied commercial office space into apartments and to provide tax incentives to promote the inclusion of affordable housing.

Without legislation generating fresh and creative ideas for home creation, the affordable housing situation, according to Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, will only worsen.

By permitting the conversion of underutilized commercial real estate, Gibson stated, “housing flexibility would provide thousands of new units of cheap, safe, and excellent housing to tackle rising homelessness in our community.

Gibson and her colleague’s BPs have issued a joint statement supporting Governor Hochul’s call for a radical overhaul of how the state addresses housing and development. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mayor Adams has also called for remodeling vacant offices.

Amid the move to remote labor, certain business districts in the city, including portions of Midtown Manhattan, have had difficulty recovering from the crisis.

The 5 Borough Housing Movement, a movement urging politicians to lift rules that hinder conversions, has the support of the borough presidents.

One of the group’s top concerns is enabling the conversion of old commercial buildings throughout the city to residences, especially in Manhattan below 96th Street.

New York families are being ejected from their homes and neighborhoods across Manhattan, according to Democrat and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Converting some commercial buildings for residential usage could improve the availability of affordable homes and help solve this housing crisis.”

Democrats Donovan Richards of Queens, a Republican named Vito Fossella of Staten Island, and Democrats Antonio Reynoso of Brooklyn united in endorsing the proposal.


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