Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The affordability solution: build bigger?

Harvard economist (and fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute) Edward Glaeser has a piece in the New York Sun today about how to create more affordable apartments. His solution: more construction and less regulation.

Glaeser writes:
There are a host of regulatory barriers to construction. The brawl in Brooklyn over shortening the Atlantic Yards tower shows how effective community groups can be in limiting height and the supply of homes. As these community groups have grown since the 1970s, the heights of new residential buildings in Manhattan have plummeted.

First, the main tower--Frank Gehry's 620-foot "Miss Brooklyn"--has not been shortened, though even Borough President Marty Markowitz, a project supporter, wants it reduced. Second, it's 16 towers, not just one. Third, and most importantly, the main reason community groups are arguing about height and density is because this project is not subject to city zoning, as it's proceeding under the auspices of the Empire State Development Corporation.

The Hudson Yards process

Here are the paragraphs from the Hudson Yards press release mentioned by the commenter below:
Under the agreement, the Hudson Yards Development Corporation (HYDC), a City-created local development corporation, will work with a variety of stakeholders – including community groups and the public – to prepare within six months a statement of planning and design guidelines for the Western Rail Yards, located between 11th and 12th Avenues and between 30th and 33rd Streets. The guidelines will include specifics on key elements of development such as permissible uses and densities. Guidelines already exist for the Eastern Rail Yards, located between 10th and 11th Avenues and between 30th and 33rd Streets, as a result of the Hudson Yards rezoning approved by the City Council in January of 2005.

The MTA will prepare and issue a request-for-proposals (RFP) reflecting these guidelines within two months after their completion. The MTA will complete the evaluation of responses within three months after the release of the RFP, for either or both of the Eastern Rail Yards and the Western Rail Yards. A selection committee, the majority of which will be representatives of the MTA and which will include two representatives chosen by the City, will then select winning responses within 45 days. Any disposition (sale or lease) will be subject to the approval of the MTA Board. In addition, the MTA has agreed that the development on the Western Rail Yards envisioned by the City-MTA agreement will be subject to the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) including appropriate environmental review.

1 comment:

  1. Wrongo, professor! Given developer and governmental intransigence regarding any meaningful scaleback, the Atlantic Yards opposition has had ZERO effect in curbing the size of Ratner's and Gehry's arrogant ego trip. The project is the same colossal size as first proposed, with an almost amusingly blatant 8% subsequent scaleup a year before it was backscaled to its initial 2003 square footage. What DDDB et al. have done is inform the public and buy some time for thoughtful analysis and community considerations to be aired. How is this a bad thing?

    Optimally, community pressure will stop this most-favored-developer project and return the clock on Vanderbilt Yard development to zero hour, forcing the public realm to do its job as an honest broker between citizen and developer interests. We need to START with a publicly created plan, as the Kelo decision calls for, then issue an RFP based on that community-sensitive plan, and have developer and project selection last, as Bloomberg, Pataki and Kalikow were finally forced to do with the Hudson Yards. See paragraphs 6 and 7 of this Pataki press release on the Hudson Yards for a statement outlining how things oughta work: http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/06/0927062.htm. If it's now good enough for the West Side, why not for Prospect Heights? Seems a not unreasonable compromise, eh, Spitzer?

    Otherwise, we're living in Bassackwardland. Perhaps the good professor could do a little homework.

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