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October 1, 2014
by EmmaPattiz
On 09.24.14, a slew of elected officials and community groups gathered in LaGuardia Park, across the street from the Center for Architecture, to protest NYU expansion on public open space.

On 09.16.14, the Historic Districts Council (HDC), the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), and the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School hosted “Affordable Housing/Historic Preservation: A Roundtable Discussion” at The New School. Moderated by GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman, the panel focused on the challenges associated with preserving affordable housing units in New York City.

Panelists included Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; Rosie Mendez, NYC Council Member; Harvey Epstein, associate director and project director for the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center; Nadine Maleh, director of Inspiring Places, Community Solutions; and Rachel Meltzer, assistant professor of Urban Policy at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School. Speakers emphasized the importance of community participation in the planning processes, and debated how the city should structure inclusionary zoning policies.

Some panelists thought that inclusionary zoning programs should pass neighborhood by neighborhood and adjust to different contexts, like the previous Lower East Side/East Village plan. Others felt that NYC should develop a citywide plan that does not exempt any neighborhood. Either way, affordable developments must be within scale and context.

When it comes to preserving housing, the panelists discussed the local options available to NYC, such as including historic tax credits as part of the mix for funding affordable housing, renovating empty SROs, and bringing illegal basement units up to code. In the outer boroughs there is more flexibility to build up and increase density, but in Manhattan, where many of the speakers focus their work, the options might be more limited.

This nuanced conversation continues and will be central to an ongoing AIANY initiative. AIANY members are working together to propose design suggestions to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development as the city works to reach its affordable housing goals.

Pulse Points

  • After New York City Council and the de Blasio Administration passed a landmark package of legislation to reduce carbon emissions in NYC, the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) held a “City Council Environmental Roundtable” at City Hall Restaurant on 09.23.14. Speakers were stalwart environmentalists in the City Council, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Donovan Richards, Brad Lander, Costa Constantinides, Rory Lancman, Andy Cohen, Ydanis Rodriguez, and Steve Levin, and Council Member Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. Read more about the event here.
  • On 09.21.14, AIANY members and staff joined fellow green building advocates as part of the “Green Building Contingent” to march in the People’s Climate March. Read more about the experience here.
  • On 09.23.14, the NYC Council passed Intro 474, changing the effective date of the 2014 Construction Codes from 10.01.14 to 12.31.14. This extension allows additional time for design professionals to properly prepare plans to comply. More information can be found on the NYC Department of Buildings website. AIANY joined REBNY and other peer institutions in writing a series of letters in support of this change. Read the letters here.
  • On 09.24.14, a slew of elected officials and community groups gathered in LaGuardia Park, across the street from the Center for Architecture, to protest NYU expansion on public open space. For more information, visit the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation website.
  • Mayor de Blasio will not drastically increase the percentage of affordable housing units required in new developments when he unveils his mandatory inclusionary housing proposal. The administration will, instead, plan to increase the number of affordable units by asking developers to build to current expectations without subsidies from the city. Read more about it here.
  • NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will set up a Neighborhood Strategies unit to manage mandatory inclusionary zoning. You can read more here.
  • The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has voted to approve significant changes that will streamline and overhaul the Intern Development Program (IDP), which most states require to satisfy experience requirements for initial licensure as an architect.
  • On 09.30.14, AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, presented testimony before the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in favor of the proposed 140 West 81st Street project designed by DXA Studio. Read the testimony here.
  • 10.06.14 is World Architecture Day, and the theme this year is Healthy cities, happy cities. Read more about it, and other news from UIA, in the UIA’s September newsletter here.

Emma Pattiz is the AIANY Policy Coordinator. For more information on AIANY policy initiatives and programs, please contact her at epattiz@aiany.org.

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