What would be the process of turning more offices into housing?
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If we can remove up to 40% of the office stock in New York City, we could turn it into wonderful housing. New York City has all these great amenities, it’s a wonderful place where young people want to live, regardless of where they work.” He thought that people would work from home for a while, then head to bars in the Village at night. He said it is the vision of New York.
Track fires in the subway system can be determined by looking at how much of the fires are caused by debris thrown from train platforms. The M.T.A said there were a 12 percent increase in the number of fires in the previous year and a 40 percent increase in the previous year. Increased caution in some areas may have been brought by the Pandemic era, which also encouraged disinhibition in others. Eight months ago, a Queens-bound E train was emptied at a stop in Midtown when someone threw a microwave onto the tracks.
There are also simply more of us. The city’s population grew by roughly half a million people over the past decade as the delivery economy, with all of its accompanying packaging, swelled in tandem.
The city generated more garbage than it did five years ago, but it diverted less of its total output towards recycling, even as the de Blasio administration tries to eliminate landfill waste by the year 2030. Environmental advocates were upset that money for a pilot program for curbside pickup of organic materials wasn’t restored in the city’s budget.
In Chicago, the leader of the Chicago Loop Alliance has been keeping a close eye on the return to downtown offices. He started going back to his office in the spring of 2020 and he was reminiscing about riding his bike past boarded up buildings and empty skyscrapers. When he took the train, he noticed the silence, the absence of all the suited-up businesspeople who used to commute alongside him.
The city has begun developing a plan that will use office conversions as the basis for creating 1,000 housing units with 30 percent of them affordable along LaSalle Street, which is a major business thoroughfare. Mr. Edwards thinks more people could easily commute to downtown jobs if more people were living downtown.
He notes that this push to bring more housing downtown is part of a recent trend: Roughly 40,000 people live in the downtown Loop, up from just about 13,000 a decade ago. People are interested in living in the downtown area because of higher rental rates at the Loop apartments.
Mr.Edwards, who used to live in the loop, said that you are in the middle of everything. There is a 10-minute walk to work, so you have two hours of commute back and forth.
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In New York, too, some real estate owners are calling more emphatically for conversations on housing conversion. Real estate firms say companies are speeding up their search for new offices with high class amenities in order to get the best deals. That leaves millions of square feet in lower-class spaces, often constructed before the 1980s, that is likely to sit empty.
A doom cycle depends on the numbers. On an average weekday, nearly half of New York City’s workers stay away from the office; on Mondays and Fridays, the share is even higher. The subway and bus have lost one-third of their ridership from the prepandemic levels. Major crimes rose more than 20 percent last year, and more than 300,000 people left the city in the first year of the pandemic, taking a total income of more than $21 billion. If office values decrease in proportion with usage, city revenue from property taxes will drop by $5 billion a year, Dr. Van Nieuwerburgh said.
“What happens to New York City from here on out depends on how we act and how the policies are made” he said. “It’s not inevitable. There’s various degrees to how bad this can get. There’s a scenario in my mind where it’s not as bad as feared, if we make all the right policy decisions. There are many different scenarios where we don’t.
He said that he gives some insight into how New York might handle the situation. After completing his doctorate at Stanford, he moved to New York in 2003, when Lower Manhattan was still recovering from the shock and exodus following Sept. 11. Fear of terrorism will cause residents and companies to leave the city and create a void, which we see today in Midtown.
But then the government subsidized construction of new housing downtown and the conversion of commercial buildings into apartments. Lower Manhattan thrived instead of collapsing. Similar measures, with a big infusion of state and federal money, might greatly ease the damage from remote work, he said.