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Urban Prospect: Factory Floor
The most controversial issues in the city’s land use planning regard the future of the vast underutilized areas still zoned for industrial purposes. As housing developers scour the city for marketable, unencumbered sites and planners ponder where Manhattan can accommodate future commercial growth, large sections of the city remain off-limits to most types of new development because of its manufacturing zoning.
For several decades proposals to rezone manufacturing districts to allow other uses have run aground of opposition from border communities that prefer the tranquility of the status quo and from industrial preservationists who believe the city must retain a …Read more
Urban Prospect: 197-a Comes of Age
The 1989 City Charter sought to give communities a greater say in the land use policies that affect them. The charter provision governing neighborhood plans, known as 197-a, was rewritten and the Planning Commission was instructed to devise formal procedures for their adoption.
The new rules were implemented after a lively debate over the relative merits of local versus centralized planning. As the first to have its zoning recommendations formally proposed as law, a plan negotiated between Manhattan’s Chelsea community and the Department of City Planning (DCP) is being hailed by many as a model of how the 197-a process …Read more
Urban Prospect: Preservation Issues Clarify
During the 1960s and 1970s New York City lost 350,000 private housing units to disinvestment and abandonment. With a replacement value of over $40 billion, that contagion of housing loss ranks as one of the worst economic disasters in the city’s history. Although public memory of the calamity has begun to fade, most housing professionals believe that new threats to the stability of the private, low-income housing stock loom even as many of the underlying causes of abandonment remain unresolved.
Rising water and sewer rates, new lead paint and fire sprinkler regulations, and the uncertainties of welfare reform all pose …Read more
Urban Prospect: The Affordable City
A tabulation of listings from a recent edition of the New York Times shows that the average asking rent for Manhattan apartments is over $2,460.
It is not only Manhattan rentals that give New York a reputation for high housing costs. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of existing homes sold in the metropolitan area during 1996 was $174,500, nearly 50 percent above the national average.
Click here (pdf) to read about the impact of HUD’s City Budget on affordable housing in New York.…Read more
Urban Prospect: Slow Progress on School Facilities
Created by the state legislature a decade ago as an extraordinary measure to remedy the deplorable physical conditions and overcrowding of the city’s schools, the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) has been widely criticized for failing to substantially alter school building conditions. At the time of SCA’s inception, the Board of Education (BOE) had estimated that 83 percent of the schools required capital repairs totaling $5 billion. Since then, the Authority has spent roughly $7 billion, and the Board of Education estimates that another $7 billion is required to repair the city’s existing school buildings, and still more …Read more
Urban Prospect: The Best Schools
Quality public education is the foundation of any serious effort to revitalize urban communities, to reduce welfare dependency, to ameliorate poverty, and to remedy racial injustice. Yet, successful inner-city schools remain the exception within public education systems. A growing sense of urgency is stimulating experimentation and prompting many community development organizations to become more involved in school reform.
Click here (pdf) to read CHPC’s Urban Prospect on how community groups are becoming involved in the education system.…Read more
Urban Prospect: Waterworld
During the past decade water and sewer charges have become a major cost concern for property owners throughout the city. Rates have increased steadily, and the movement toward universal metering has produced a redistribution of the cost burden among classes of users. Yet, few of those paying the bills have even a general understanding of the city’s water quality policies or of the environmental considerations that could cause bills to escalate in the future.
Moreover, because customers pay for water and sewer services through fees and not taxes, the spending and pricing policies of the agencies involved are largely free …Read more
Urban Prospect: The Missing Middle
The spring’s protracted standoff over rent regulations produced some of the most heated housing rhetoric heard in many year. Tenant groups portrayed vacancy decontrol as a prelude to skyrocketing rent increases and a massive displacement of middle-class residents. Advocates of decontrol exaggerated the degree to which rent regulations suppress new housing construction in the city and promised a golden era of housing production if they were removed. Both sides largely ignored the allocational distortions that are probably the most pernicious effect of regulation.
The debate, however, temporarily focused the attention of the press and public on the dearth of middle-income …Read more
Urban Prospect: City Resumes Anti-Abandonment Effort
Eighteen months after the Mayor announced a new strategy for preventing housing abandonment and for diverting tax-delinquent buildings from city ownership, major elements of the program have yet to be implemented. While sales of tax liens on some buildings have gone forward, plans to turn others over to new third party managers have been stalled by a number of legal and technical glitches.
Click here (pdf) to read CHPC’s analysis of the Giuliani Administration’s strategy toward tax-delinquent proerties.…Read more
Urban Prospect: Reassessing Tax Incentives
Hoping to tie renovation of its troubled in rem buildings to renewed market interest in residential housing, the Giuliani administration is expected to release a proposal in the coming months to amend the 421a Program. Last year’s 7,428 new dwelling units represent less than two-thirds of the housing created in 1971, when concern over lagging residential production motivated the state legislature to establish the 421a tax exemption program. Expected to facilitate the development of more than 150,000 units in its first three years, 421a has taken more than 25 years to foster 100,000 new apartments.
Click here (pdf) to read …Read more
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