Borough president identifies five local sites for affordable housing

Borough President Mark Levine has released a report titled “Housing Manhattanites” and it has very specific plans for sites that could accommodate affordable housing as well as some sites he wants to keep percolating for future use. It’s a well written and well organized report — you can read it yourself here — and the breakdown follows below.

The report covers the whole city but I only studied the Community District 1 section. As a primer, he has some good stats on the district:

  • The population increased by 17,400 between 2010 and 2020 to 78,390 residents, a 27 percent increase.
  • Since 2014, only 212 units of affordable housing were produced, the second-lowest number in Manhattan.
  • The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program has produced no affordable units.
  • Median monthly rents in CD1 have skyrocketed, ranging from $4,400 in the Financial District to $11,995 in Tribeca.
  • The average median household income in the district is $158,297.
  • More than a third of households are rent burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their pre-tax income on rent.

So here goes:

Three public, two private, that in total could generate 945 units of housing. (Read the end of the report if you need to understand how the private sites could be developed.)


350 Canal Street at West Broadway
Owner: USPS
Use: Post Office
Zoning: C6-2A
Potential Units: 233


37 Chambers Street at Elk Street
Owner: DCAS
Use: Surface Parking
Zoning: C4-5X
Potential Units: 183

150 Park Row at Pearl
Owner: US GS Admin
Use: Metropolitan Correction Center (vacant)
Zoning: C6-1
Potential Units: 131

248 Pearl at Fulton/John (I am confused on this one. 248 Pearl looks built out to me; 243 Pearl is an Ikon Parking lot.)
Owner: Private
Use: Surface Parking
Zoning: C6-4
Potential Units: 258

100 Broad Street at Bridge/Pearl
Owner: Private (a clearing house bought the site in 2011 for $6 million)
Use: Commercial
Zoning: C5-5
Potential Units: 140



130 Liberty aka 5 World Trade Center (at least I am assuming from the report, since 130 Liberty is actually St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church!)
Owner: ESD
Use: Vacant
Zoning: C6-9
Units: 1,325

There is a community effort to create 100 percent affordable housing on this site. See more on that here.


Pier 6
Owner: SBS (which I think is the Select Bus Service, which is part of the MTA…)
Use: Transportation
Zoning: C4-6
Units: 9,000
Affordability: Mixed Income

Pier 6 is a publicly owned 510,025-square-foot parcel that includes the heliport. The president lands there sometimes and the Secret Service then takes it over. The city has never wanted to get rid of any of its heliports, which residents for the most part are tortured by — they are considered essential as part of the city’s transportation infrastructure and used in some cases for emergencies. It is also part of the Special Lower Manhattan District (this was a new one for me) that was created in 1998 to allow for conversions yet also protect the old street grid. The BP thinks he could find a way to transfer development rights off the pier and onto another more housing-appropriate site. And it would come with inclusionary housing requirements.

56 Greenwich Street
Owner: MTA
Use: Transportation
Zoning: C6-9, C5-5
Units: 2,967
The redevelopment of this site would require decking over the entrance to the tunnel. Brookfield Properties did this to develop Manhattan West in the West 30s, decking over rail lines in order to create a five-acre campus, and of course that’s how Hudson Yards was created.

With the understanding that any of these proposals will require action by a wide variety of stakeholders (community boards, the City Council, the City Planning Commission, city and state agencies, and property owners) the borough president’s office will reduce its ULURP review period from 30 days, as is currently allowed, to five days on these sites to expedite things. The office will also offer expedited approval for any site that should emerge in the future that meets a 100 percent affordability threshold.



  1. All excellent sites for workforce/affordable housing, to help ensure that lower Manhattan retains socio-economic diversity of working residents. Build them all!

    Bonus points if helicopters are banished from Manhattan’s shores :).

  2. Let’s hope they are not seriously considering tearing down the beautiful Art Deco/Moderne post office, which should be a city landmark if it is not already. It seems to be on the National Register of Historic Places though.

  3. Please, not the post office!

    Why not over parking lots, like the eyesore at Broadway & Lispenard?

    • I also hope that corner gets developed with something at least as tall as 401 Broadway, but preferably taller. The site is literally a block away from multiple major subway stops and it is criminal not to maximize housing on a rare empty Manhattan site.

  4. Would they really put new housing on an identified African Burial Ground? According to reports that parking lot on Chambers and Elk Street is likely to contain intact bodies. This would seem pretty disrespectful!

  5. The City’s plans for Canal Street routinely bounce between inane and idiotic. One has to wonder if these decision makers have ever even visited Canal Street or even looked at a crime or traffic report. How anyone could think that in addition to De Blasio’s’ debacle that adding a mega residential tower of any kind across the street from the universally opposed 200 men homeless shelter is a good idea is just mind bogglingly stupid.

    • Thank you, totally agree. This whole thing reeks of developer speak with city collusion in the works. What other country would allow private take over of a post office building? Even though poorly run, by saying it’s not ‘landmarked’ as if to justify the replacement of a public service institution, is insane.
      The improvement of the post office has fallen into the hands of total incompetence all these decades, and finally it’s up for grabs?!

    • If the City were serious about Canal street they would turn it into a vehicle-free promenade.

  6. Our monthly rent for a three bedroom in Battery Park grew to $11,500 by the time we stopped living there full time in 2020. I wonder where all the funding for the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program went?

  7. Agreed should be mixed income.

  8. The report is good because it creates opportunity. I’m sure if they build on the post office site there would be an option to keep some part in tact. I believe the Brooklyn tower sits on top of the former dime savings bank building near the city point center. Though personally the post office to me is an eyesore.

    The idea of transferring development rights is also good to bring to the table. From the helipad ref in the article.

    I hope many housing projects move forward. My landlord says they can get almost 7k a month for our 1 bedroom apt. It’s time for more.

  9. The stats at the end were fascinating.

    “More than a third of households are rent burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their pre-tax income on rent.”

    So my one bedroom apartment in Tribeca, at $5K a month, would suggest that anybody making $200K a year or less is “rent burdened.”

  10. Enough with all of the “affordable” housing construction. What this city needs are more small businesses (that’s what built this city long before the box stores). I know people shop online, but there’s nothing like walking into a store and having people help you – not some live chat or having to email customer service and wait for days for an answer. I miss having shoe stores, card stores and more diners in this city. My rent is barely affordable, so why should my tax dollars pay for other people?

  11. Saw them cleaning the lot on Elk this morning for the very first time in the 7 years that I have lived on the block / Reade Street. Guess they are getting ready for site visits.

  12. Please leave Canal St P.O. alone I have had a box there since the late 60’s What is left of businesses in Tribeca( especially the restaurants) are not geared price wise for people who need affordable housing. And in no time what was built as affordable becomes priced for the upper crust Pick another neighborhood.

  13. Save the post office but by all means, let’s fill in parking lots ASAP and replace them with contextual apartment buildings. It’s no panacea but each increase in the supply (including luxe buildings) will slightly lower the crazy high cost per square foot in Tribeca. I disagree with the idea that the city needs to shake down developers to include ‘affordable’ housing is counter-productive. No city has made its housing less expensive (except for a lucky and/or well-connected few) this way. Holding development hostage to ‘affordable’ housing is used by older property owners to increase their wealth at the expense of new residents and the city’s dynamic future.

  14. I agree with Sara Ross and OK. Why should I pay someone else’s rent so they can live in one of the world’s most expensive neighborhoods? Why should a lucky few get to live in subsidized housing in Tribeca when most people just move to someplace cheaper? Why not get rid the vast maze of City regulations like rent control that discourage new housing construction in the first place? Since DeBlasio took office NYC has developed so many problems that hundreds of thousands of residents flee every year. The voters caused these issues to happen. The voters can change them.

  15. I’ve often wondered about that parking lot on Elk. Then the Emigrant Bank was redeveloped and new windows were installed overlooking the lot. Did DCAS sell some rights? Is a building now a non-starter or can a clever setback be built into the design to accommodate the new windows? Also, the DCAS could keep a 2 story parking garage on the lower levels. We don’t need another empty retail spot. (Lower levels could also be a school — get the pre-k on Elk and Reade out of the storefront?)