The rapid increase of new apartment buildings on New York City, might make it seem that it is easy to create new developments. But contrary to what it may appear to be like, Wall Street Journal report argues that New York City is one of the hardest places to build new housing in the U.S.
The WSJ worked with BuildZoom to analyze the number of new units added in mayor cities around the USA, and their findings were not very outstanding. Fair-Urban-Sprawl cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas and Dallas added more units than more populated cities like LA, NYC and San Francisco.
BuildZoom found the neighborhoods inside NYC where it’s the hardest to add new housing. Here is the list:
– Prospect Lefferts Gardens
– Gravesend/Sheepshead Bay
Manhattan doesn’t figure into the equation at all—as Issi Romem, a BuildZoom analyst notes, “once density is accepted in an area it is easy to build more there”—while neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens dominate.
The analysis shows that PLG added fewer than 500 units between the years 2000 and 2015, but other neighborhoods like Sunnyside actually lost close to 500. (The fact that the analysis goes from 2000-2015 may skew things a bit, considering that Astoria, for example, has seen an influx of apartments in the past two years.)
What do these 5 neighborhoods have in common that it makes it so hard to build in? For one, they’re neighborhoods where there’s a large concentration of existing single- or two-family homes compared to bigger apartment buildings. (See: Astoria, Kensington.)
And, perhaps more crucially, there are measures in place that prevent large-scale, dense development from taking root in some of these areas. Take Sunnyside, for example: It’s home to the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District, which occupies several blocks in the neighborhood. The area was also rezoned in 2011 to curb overdevelopment. (A subsequent effort last year to bring 200 affordable units to the neighborhood through rezoning failed.)
Similar efforts are now playing out in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, where community members have pushed back against tall buildings in the neighborhood. One such development, the rental building at 626 Flatbush Avenue (aka the Parkline), drew the ire of locals; they’ve since fought a developer’s efforts to rezone several blocks in nearby Crown Heights in order to build 16-story towers.
Romem notes an interesting trend in his analysis. Neighborhoods where it’s toughest to build are often considered gentrifying, or are ones that could be considered “exclusive and wealthy low-density enclaves.” Astoria for example, was named one of the city’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, according to a Furman Center study, while Sunnyside certainly falls into the exclusive low-density enclave category. Similar scenario with PLG.