Earlier this year, the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, and the Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, assembled a panel of civic leaders and industry experts to try and come up with a plan for a “New” New York.
Initially, this panel was intended to be entirely focused on reviving the city’s business districts, and in particular those that have been slow to recover from the pandemic. But scope creep happens and it ultimately grew to include two other important goals: make it easier to get around and encourage “inclusive, future-focused growth.”
The recommendations from this panel were released today and it’s in the form of a report with 40 specific initiatives. In keeping with its original intent, the first recommended initiative is one that you would expect: “Make Midtown and other business districts more live-work-play.” And what that means is the following:
We will remove barriers that have kept Midtown and other business districts stagnant by making it easier to convert and redevelop outdated office buildings to other uses, including residential, thereby empowering the market to create more vibrant, mixed-use districts. We will also update old-fashioned regulatory codes that have prevented small businesses from locating, expanding, and innovating in those districts, providing zoning flexibility for businesses to thrive. And we will unite our business districts behind a shared goal of vitality by aligning incentives for businesses to help maintain vibrant business districts.
New York isn’t the first city to be encouraging office-to-residential conversions and it certainly isn’t going to be the last. I think most of you know that I am a firm believer in office-centric cultures and that I’m in mine 5 days a week. But this is a recalibration that is going to need to take place in some submarkets.
And here is one of the capitals of the world — New York City — telling us that it needs to happen there.