New measures are in the works to solve the city’s housing and office crises — but they depend on whether Mayor Eric Adams has what it takes to push them through the obstructionist City Council.

The housing-starved city will need 473,000 new apartments by 2032, according to the Regional Plan Association, but only 11,000 new ones were built last year – compared to 45,000 in 2022. At the same time, office vacancies are at a record 20%, mostly in older, undesirable buildings.

Transforming the obsolete office buildings into residential units has become the proposed elixir – especially on the heels of Chicago’s highly-publicized plan to give landlords generous subsidies to convert four vacant downtown buildings.  

Office vacancies are at a record 20%, mostly in older, undesirable buildings. Christopher Sadowski

However, piecemeal, location-specific programs like those in the Windy City won’t make a dent in the Big Apple, a policy expert told The Post.

“It’s apples and watermelons,” the source told The Post. “New York’s office market is more than twice as big as Chicago’s and has literally thousands of  buildings in trouble, not just a few.”

The biggest obstacle to residential conversion in New York isn’t the cost — several such projects costing more than a half-billion dollars are ongoing  such as at 25 Water St. —  but archaic zoning rules that severely limit the areas and numbers of buildings eligible for conversion.

The current proposals would loosen current rules that forbid conversions of buildings constructed after 1961 or after 1971 in parts of Downtown Manhattan. New rules would allow conversions of buildings that went up as recently as 1991 — making thousands more eligible.

The other change would expand the areas where conversions are allowed at all — currently from Midtown and Downtown Manhattan and a few other high-density areas such as Long Island City, to nearly 90% of the five boroughs.

The measures are currently under reviews by borough presidents and community boards. The Council will likely vote on the proposed changes by the end of the year.

Urban planners  say such sweeping changes are needed to promote wide-scale transformations of useless offices to apartments.

Mayor Eric Adams faces a recalcitrant City Council that’s trying to limit his powers by requiring  approvals  over his mayoral appointments. Andrew Schwartz / SplashNews.com

The state recently took a step toward relieving both the strain on  the Big Apple’s office market and the scarcity of new homes by granting landlords  a 90% tax exemption to convert failing office towers to rental apartments if they make 25% of the units “affordable.”

SL Green CEO Marc Holliday, who plans to convert 750 Third Avenue, predicted that the so-called 467M program will generate 20 million to 40 million square feet in new apartment creation.

City Planning Commissioner Daniel Garodnick said the  rezoning proposals will free up a whopping 136 million square feet of offices — more than a quarter of the city’s entire office stock — for  conversion to homes.

“New York is taking on this challenge on a city-wide basis, throwing a lifeline to struggling office spaces in every borough, and enabling a variety of buildings to convert to new housing in the process. It’s a win-win,” Garodnick told The Post.

SL Green CEO Marc Holliday, who plans to convert 750 Third Avenue (above), predicted that the so-called 467M program will generate 20 million to 40 million square feet in new apartment creation. Robert Miller

Insiders said it’s up to Adams to make it happen. 

“He needs to persuade the Council to approve it, if he has to horse-trade for future favors or send them pastrami sandwiches,” one insider joked.

Making conversions easier might seem to be a no-brainer. They’d require no outlay of taxpayer funds, no demolitions and no tenant evictions.

But Adams faces a recalcitrant City Council that’s trying to limit his powers by requiring approvals over his mayoral appointments.

Obstacles to conversion rule changes can come from the left and the right.

Piecemeal, location-specific programs like those in the Windy City (above) won’t make a dent in the Big Apple, a policy expert told The Post. Getty Images

Some “progressives” support union arguments that apartment conversions will cost jobs in areas like the Garment District. Others don’t want to give developers any “favors” that don’t require “affordable” apartment components.

Opposition also comes from NIMBY-minded Council members who regard any neighborhood change as an assault on their constituents’ way of life — whether in Central Harlem or in Flushing or more suburban parts of Queens.

“This will be a defining moment for Adams,” one political analyst said. “He talks about  “City of Yes,” but his “Get Scaffolds Down” campaign has yet to make a dent  in the scaffold scourge and there are more  illegal pot shops since his pledge to shut them down.”

“He really needs to step up on making apartment conversions easier.”

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