In an Opinion essay published in The New York Times online 30 December 2023, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Founder, PAU shared analysis from his firm, proposing the potential creation of enough housing for one million New Yorkers. According to the analysis, approximately 520,245 homes could be accommodated on around 1,700 acres of unused land within the city, primarily situated above existing single-story commercial spaces, and building vertically with low-, mid-, and high-rise buildings. Chakrabarti argues that this approach offers a feasible alternative to the costly and often impractical conversion of office buildings constructed before 1980, addressing the ongoing debate on urban density and topic of renovation and repositioning existing structures.
The analysis by PAU's team builds upon previous proposals related to streetscape and rail infrastructure, utilizing data on vacant lots, flood-prone areas, and the proximity of subway stations and other mass transit options. The current housing demand, exceeding 500,000 homes, aligns with New York City Mayor Eric Adams's official plan from December 2022. This proposal is the start of the conversation and specific suggestions for expediting the construction process ar not part of this analysis.
Chakrabarti acknowledges the existing challenges within New York City's housing development, including zoning issues, under-taxation of vacant land, rising construction costs, the elimination of key tax incentives, and opposition to development. Despite these obstacles, he urges against the misconception that the city has run out of space or that construction would compromise its character. In his plea, he emphasizes New York City's vast potential for growth, highlighting the need to address political and zoning hurdles that persist.
Read more about this at The New York Times.