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Mayor Bloomberg Announces New Competition To Develop Innovative Apartment Model For Small Households

July 9, 2012

Department of Housing Preservation and Development Seeks Proposals to Develop Replicable Design for Micro-Units - Apartments Smaller than Currently Allowed - and Build Them in a Pilot Project at 335 East 27th Street

Pilot Program to Address Need for Smaller Apartments for the 1.8 Million One- to Two-Person Households in New York City

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua today launched the adAPT NYC Competition, a pilot program to develop a new housing model for the City’s growing small-household population. adAPT NYC seeks to create additional choices within New York City’s housing market to accommodate the city’s changing demographics. Currently New York City has 1.8 million one- and two-person households, but only one million studios and one-bedrooms. The design competition involves a Request for Proposals for a rental building composed primarily, or completely, of micro-units – apartments smaller than what is allowed under current regulations. New York City’s housing codes have not kept up with its changing population, and currently do not allow an entire building of micro-units. Under this pilot program, Mayor Bloomberg will waive certain zoning regulations at a City-owned site at 335 East 27th Street in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan to test the market for this new housing model. The Mayor made the announcement at the American Institute of Architects’ Center for Architecture and also was joined by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri, whose agencies collaborated with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development on the creation of this design competition.

“Developing housing that matches how New Yorkers live today is critical to the City’s continued growth, future competitiveness and long-term economic success,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “People from all over the world want to live in New York City, and we must develop a new, scalable housing model that is safe, affordable and innovative to meet their needs.”

“Under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, New York City continues to be a magnet for talent from around the world and around the five boroughs, and with this new model for development of affordable housing, we will help ensure that New Yorkers have more options that meet their housing needs,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “This innovative public-private partnership will build on the Bloomberg Administration’s track record of leveraging private-sector expertise and resources to develop quality affordable housing.”

“Research has shown that stable, affordable housing can have a positive impact on health and well-being,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs. “From young graduates just starting out to older adults seeking to downsize, adAPT NYC will allow us to better meet the changing housing needs of New Yorkers by piloting apartments that are affordable, efficient, and in tune with New York lifestyles.”

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will issue an RFP for the design, construction, and operation of a micro-unit rental building on a transit-oriented, City-owned site located at 335 East 27th Street in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan. At least 75 percent of the units in the building will be micro-units, which are expected to measure approximately 275 to 300 square feet. These efficient, self-contained units will include kitchens and bathrooms. The RFP design guidelines encourage the development of a mixed-use building with apartments that have substantial access to light and air to create a sense of openness. Responses will be judged on affordability and competitive land purchase price; innovative micro-unit layout and building design; and experience developing housing in New York City. Other high-cost, high-density cities also are testing the concept of micro-units to provide smaller and less expensive housing options.

adAPT NYC is a fantastic opportunity to create a model of housing that could be replicated in other locations and contexts to expand New York City’s housing stock,” said HPD Commissioner Wambua. “We’re looking for creativity, affordability, imaginative design and responsiveness to the needs of real New Yorkers. Show us something we haven’t seen before that is ingenious, sustainable, replicable and practical, and we will work with you to make it a reality.”

“As with the Inclusionary Housing Program, adAPT NYC is another example of a successful partnership between HPD and City Planning where zoning innovation is used to broaden housing choices for New Yorkers,” said Planning Commissioner Burden. “With adAPT, we are using design layouts to define a new apartment model and ensure that the city’s housing meets the diverse needs of its residents.”

“As New York City continues to grow and evolve, our housing stock must do the same,” said Buildings Commissioner LiMandri. “This design competition is a unique opportunity to re-define the way New Yorkers live by creating a new type of housing model that is safe, efficient and affordable. The challenge will be to follow our strict safety standards while providing an innovative design that meets the public’s needs.”

“New Yorkers can be better served by adapting the city’s apartment models to allow more efficient and sustainable homes,” said Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability Director David Bragdon. “Today’s announcement is fulfillment of the pledge in PlaNYC, the Mayor’s long-term sustainability strategy, to update the City’s regulations to better accommodate the population and demographics of the future.”

“The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter is pleased to support the adAPT initiative through which New York City’s housing supply will more nimbly provide space for the growing number of young and creative individuals looking to move to our city or remain here,” said Rick Bell, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects New York. “Decent apartments of small size can be provided in all five boroughs that meet the demand of a growing population for whom location, value and design matter.”

“With this important housing pilot, New York once again leads world cities in devising creative solutions to the challenge of accommodating growth in an environmentally sustainable way,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, the Partnership for New York City. 

“This program will usher in important innovations in our zoning resolution to address the city's perennial shortage of housing for a broad segment of our population,” said Steve Spinola, President of REBNY. “This creative approach will be one of the more enduring aspects of the Mayor’s housing legacy.”

“Once again the Bloomberg Administration tackles age-old issues with fresh thinking and a willingness to experiment with new ideas,” said Jerilyn Perine, Executive Director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. “This pilot project will not only create new types of much needed housing; but will also set the stage for much need regulatory relief to make room for more housing choices for our growing population.”

Today there are several regulatory barriers to building smaller housing units. The City will waive zoning regulations for this pilot project to permit the development of a single building predominately composed of micro-units. Responses to the RFP will demonstrate whether the micro-unit model is viable and can provide a suitable housing alternative. The pilot will help inform potential regulatory changes that could allow the as-of-right development of micro-units in appropriate locations. The City will not waive Building Code requirements for this pilot, but an optional section of the RFP will ask developers to suggest changes to the codes that would facilitate future development of this type of housing.

The adAPT NYC initiative is as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance the creation or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. In this initial design competition, there is no City subsidy. HPD will require that, like all newly-constructed or substantially-renovated buildings built under the New Housing Marketplace Plan, proposals achieve certification through the Enterprise Green Communities Program, a comprehensive green building framework that provides cost-effective standards for creating healthy and energy efficient homes.

HPD will hold a pre-submission conference for potential design teams on July 31, 2012 at the American Institute of Architects’ Center for Architecture. The deadline for proposal submissions is September 14, 2012.

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Housing Preservation and Development
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