New York City, NY

Why NYC Plans to Convert Parts of Midtown into Housing

Genius Turner
Midtown Manhattan is home to some of NYC's most iconic buildings — from the Empire State Building to Times Square.Photo by(Dimitry B./Flickr)

Mayor Adams hopes rezoning manufacturing areas in Midtown will allow more office buildings to be converted into livable housing

New York City — "The average Manhattan rent just hit a new record of $5,588 a month," reads the CNBC headline. Ouch! And that's not including utilities.

When wide-eyed tourists browse the city, donning their "I ❤️ NY" shirts, initially they dream of moving here. The "City of Dreams" has a nice ring to it, after all. Of course, such touristy dreaming abruptly meets a wake-up call once reality sets in.

When tourists consider the rent paid for their spacious 3-bedroom castle — back home — would barely be enough for sharing 1 room in a cramped 3-bedroom apartment with 2 roommates, here in Manhattan, they'll usually reconsider.

"If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere," goes the saying...

...But unfortunately for many, who dream of surviving in the City of Dreams, there's a major housing shortage. As for why, New Yorkers are merely dealing with the most important law of economics: supply and demand.

Because in Manhattan the demand for living is so high, the supply for living is so low. This leads to a housing crisis! TikTokers routinely go viral for showcasing apartments small enough for extending their wingspans to touch fingertips, wall-to-wall.

But for Mayor Adams and the city council — a housing crisis in the nation's most densely populated city is no laughing matter. Quite naturally, the mayor has decided NYC's best defense is a good offense.

“The world has changed,” Mayor Adams said. “We have to be willing to change with it.”

Perhaps NYC, in some sense, has become a prisoner of its own success. After all, when Sinatra sang "go spread the news" because he was dying to "be a part of it... New York, New York," he forgot to mention that, technically, NYC isn't equipped to be the nation's most populated city.

Wikipedia's opening entry perfectly captures why NYC hopes to convert office buildings into housing:

On business days, [Manhattan's] influx of commuters increases this number to over 3.9 million,[34] or more than 170,000 people per square mile.

In short, every real estate investor knows turning a profit simply calls for mastering that old principle — buy land because they can't make any more of it. Mayor Adams hopes the City can transform some old land into new use, even if they can't make more of it.

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