Mayor Adams Reveals Plans to Convert Underused Offices into Housing

by | Jan 18, 2023 | AEC, Architecture

New York City Mayor Eric Adams revealed last month recommendations to convert underused office space into as many as 20,000 new homes for New Yorkers.

Developed by the Office Adaptive Reuse Task Force and Department of City Planning, these 11 recommendations include:

  • Expanding the universe of office buildings with the most flexible regulations for conversion to residential use from buildings constructed through 1961 to those constructed through 1990 — easing the potential conversion process for an additional 120 million square feet of office space;
  • Expanding flexible conversion regulations to all high-intensity office districts, including Downtown Flushing and the Bronx Hub — easing the potential conversion process for an additional 16 million square feet of office space;
  • Finding opportunities to allow housing, whether through conversions or new construction, in a centrally located, high-density part of Midtown that currently prohibits residential development;
  • Allowing office buildings to convert to various much-needed types of housing, including supportive housing;
  • Providing flexibility for offices to convert all existing space into housing, eliminating limitations that incentivize only partial conversions or make conversion projects infeasible;
  • Exploring and pursuing a tax incentive program to support the production of affordable and mixed-income housing through office conversions — adding to the city’s affordable housing stock without deterring other private investment in conversions and housing creation; and
  • Creating a property tax abatement program to incentivize retrofitting office space for child care centers, building on Mayor Adams’ “Accessible, Equitable, High-Quality, Affordable: A Blueprint for Child Care & Early Childhood Education in New York City.”

“With this study, we have a roadmap to deliver on a vision for a more vibrant, resilient, prosperous, and affordable city,” said Mayor Adams. “The need for housing is desperate, and the opportunity offered by underused office space is clear — we know what we need to do. These concrete reforms would clear red tape and create the incentives to create the housing we need for New Yorkers at all income levels. I want to thank the members of the task force for helping to chart the course, and I look forward to working with them and our partners in city and state government to deliver these much-needed reforms.”

“Enabling more offices to convert to housing will help us bring back our commercial districts while also addressing our housing supply crisis,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “The recommendations in this report will set us on the path to achieving these critical goals, and I look forward to partnering with our colleagues in Albany and the City Council to ‘Get Stuff Built.’”

New York City Office Adaptive Reuse Study