By Brian Redlein
On Wednesday, December 16th at 9 am at the National Museum of the American Indian on One Bowling Green, the City Planning Commission shall be having its public hearing for the mandatory inclusionary housing zoning changes.
You may have heard rumblings in the news about this recently in regards to significant swathes of the City, such as East New York, getting rezoned to make the inclusionary housing program mandatory in those areas. The changes to inclusionary housing are part of the Mayor’s larger strategy to provide more affordable housing in New York, and are in line with the proposed changes to the 421a tax abatement program – which barring any more assemblymen or state senators getting indicted will likely go into effect once Albany is in session again early next year.
The changes to the zoning text are 56 pages long and include key changes to key aspects of the inclusionary housing program, such as available bonus floor area and broadening calculations for determining affordable floor area to proposed mandatory inclusionary housing (MIH) sites. Bonus floor area changes are under proposed section ZR 23-154, which carries over many of the old 23-951 & 23-952 inclusionary housing provisions but moves them out of the optional 23-90 section and into the general rules on residential zoned floor area under section 23-10.
As MIH areas will soon be a zoning defined term, the definition of affordable floor area under 23-911 has to be expanded to MIH sites. This change is largely administrative, as the language for MIH sites is almost exactly the same as the language for the existing optional inclusionary housing guidelines. There is however one interesting semantic difference, as the current calculations call for adding residential floor area specifically within the perimeter walls of the affordable housing units and the MIH language is actually less specific and doesn’t call out the perimeter walls of the affordable unit(s). This could allow for more flexibility as architects could include the perimeter wall thickness of the affordable housing units in an MIH building to increase the amount of affordable area provided. This slight difference is actually more in line with how the real estate industry determines leasable floor area to begin with, as lease area typically includes the entirety of exterior walls and common area walls and half the thickness of the walls between individual tenants.
Mandatory Inclusionary Housing is the biggest zoning change currently on the cards and it looks like we’ll all be getting used to it come the New Year. I hope you all had an excellent Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ll catch up with you all again after holidays. Until then enjoy all the Christmas lights going up on sidewalk sheds on 5th Ave. Turns out they’re actually good for something pretty after all.
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