Housing Fights to Be Heard in the Mayoral Race

But the report suggests that those rezoning plans are only scratching the surface of what’s possible. The Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit planning group covering the greater New York metro area, has proposed similar plans for wealthy, transit-rich enclaves in every borough, where single-family homes and low-rise buildings tend to be more common. They include parts of Forest Hills in Queens, Midwood in Brooklyn, Riverdale in the Bronx, the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, and Grasmere in Staten Island.

The tendency has been to not bother with neighborhoods that can muster more resistance to new development, said Moses Gates, the group’s vice president of housing and neighborhood planning. But the changing landscape, with several local politicians moving left on issues of housing, could set a new standard.

“You can’t know there’s opposition, unless you give it a shot,” he said.

The hotel industry is reeling, and the city could aid in the conversion of a number of struggling hotels into housing for very-low-income New Yorkers.

Last week, the hotel occupancy rate in New York City was under 34 percent, down from about 91 percent the same time last year, according to the research firm STR.

The strain has led some owners to consider sales that could convert the buildings into affordable housing for half the cost and significantly less time than new construction, said Brenda Rosen, the president and chief executive of Breaking Ground, a nonprofit developer.

Ms. Rosen’s company is considering the purchase of a large hotel in Times Square that could create 600 units, two-thirds of which would become permanent single-room units, with the rest reserved as transitional housing for the homeless.

Before Covid flattened the hotel industry, “we couldn’t touch it,” she said of prices in central Midtown, but the company is now in talks to pay less for the building than the current owner paid for it in 2013. The last time Breaking Ground could afford core Manhattan prices was in 1996, when it converted the Prince George hotel into 416 supportive housing units, which was split between low-income adults and the formerly homeless.

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