How Bad Can the Housing Crunch Get?

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Two stories based on a report and new data offer conflicting views of the future of New York City and Brooklyn specifically. The City’s population will swell by one million new residents by 2040 and there won’t be any room for them “unless a small city of new housing is built,” according to a report from the Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia University cited in an article in The Wall Street Journal. The report says waterfront neighborhoods such as Red Hook and Greenpoint are the most logical places to build new housing. At the same time, the City faces an increased risk of flooding and severe weather thanks to climate change. By 2050, the number of New Yorkers living in flood areas will double, according to a warning issued by the Bloomberg administration, based on data from its New York City Panel on Climate Change, The New York Times reported. Since the 1970s, New York City has had an average of 18 days a year with temperatures above 89 degrees. By 2020, the number could rise to 33 days, and by 2050, to 57 days. The biggest increase in flood zones was in Brooklyn, where the number of buildings considered at risk has increased by 253 percent to 25,800. New developments are taking pains to flood proof their construction, but the prospect of significantly hotter and wetter weather does make prewar housing sound less appealing. At the same time, such an enormous increase in population can only push real estate prices up even further. What’s your take?

40 Comment

  • 2050 south slope/greenwood heights are looking pretty good as the highest natural land above sea level, but i’ll be dead so who cares.

  • The problem is that the share of younger Americans, those who make housing decisions and affect the market on the margin, who want to live in places where you can walk and take transit to things is way up.

    At the same time, most of the urban America of 70 years ago has basically collapsed economically, socially, fiscally. So the supply of such places has shrunk. The cost of the remaining viable central cities has soared, despite generally high taxes and bad schools.

    Meanwhile the supply of suburban/ auto and mall type places has soared. It doesn’t matter that many people want to live that kind of life. The supply exceeds the demand.

    There is no way the excess demand for an urban life could ever be met within the boundaries of New York City. Even if the city allowed the Brownstones to be replaced by high rises, all the industrial businesses and jobs pushed out (even the ones needed to serve New York City), all the poor were pushed out, and all the people who live like they would in Houston (driving everywhere, objecting to bicycles) moved there. Although everyone will demand money and favors for their interest to pretend to solve the problem.

    Basically, New York City has to be replicated somewhere else. Perhaps two or three times.

  • Red Hook – that is ridiculous. You have to build where there is (or could be) mass transit. Red hook floods, has always flooded and will always flood.

    Downtown Brooklyn (from Clinton St to Atlantic Yards) is still ripe for more high -rise development and it has the best infrastructure currently and it could be easily upgraded. Same for the 4th Ave corridor. And if you could figure out a way to deal with canal flooding (and utilize it for waterborne commuting) Gowanus could accept alot of residential development.

    But frankly all of this is silly anyway, the best places for development are in Queens and the Bronx and it will ultimatley be dictated by economics

  • Will I be able to grow Bananas?
    Thats what I want to know.

  • Why would pre-war (WWII?) be less attractive in a wetter hotter world? The new “glass-walled”construction with minimal insulation won’t fare very well. We could pull it all down and build everything on a raft. Or we could make hard choices to diminish and ameliorate the impact of carbon usage.

    • “The new “glass-walled”construction with minimal insulation won’t fare very well”

      Completely incorrect statement. I speak as an engineer who designs heating and air-conditioning controls for new residential and commercial construction. For instance: modern glass-walled office towers are so tightly sealed and insulated that they do not need a central heating plant. The heat thrown off from the inhabitants, office machinery and lights is sufficient. In fact, it is more than sufficient, such that AC has to be run, even in the winter.

    • Our 1890s wood frame with brick nogging is hot as hell. My 1930s Queens apartment with no cross ventilation was also.

  • But it really important that we cap 4 story neighborhoods at 4 stories because of preservation and stuff.

    • I doubt buying four story buildings that cost $2 million, tearing them down carefully so as not to cause surrounding buildings to collase, and replacing them with seven story buildings is going to be a route the private sector can take to affordable housing.
      As for replacing them with 20 story buildings, NYC, NY State and the federal government are in debt up to their eyeballs, so don’t plan on the infrastructure required for a city of 15 million. Unlike elsewhere there are no subidivision requirements with development exactions for infrastructure and schools here.

  • Oh well, its not like the warning stones around Fukushima did much good anyway.

    Call me skeptical regarding dire projections to plan and build by….planners and builders. Just make sure the the buildings are Arks that can float away in a storm, and seaworthy enough to take a nice trip to the Bahamas post-storm. Make sure they are stocked with plenty of batteries and booze too. The future is clearly about how well you float – obviously building in Red Hook and Greenpoint assures you will – might as well make it a party.

  • Even neighborhoods that are not in flood zones, like mine, often flood anyway due to the city water mains being insufficient to carry both rainwater/runoff and normal residential waste water during times of severe rain. Our basement floods regularly, sometimes with sewage…Can they please solve THAT problem before adding million of units of NEW housing? 😉

  • Oy vey. The climate change hoax goes on–because people are being paid to believe and promote it. Idiots. Has NYC’s coastline risen at all in the past decade? Even an inch? Lots more CO2 in atmosphere, record amounts. Where’s the increase? Where’s the heat? Anything? Bueller? Idiots. But wait, warming causes cooling, so this all makes sense. So unless we stop the warming, we can’t stop the cooling–I get it now.

    • roughly a foot of sea level rise in the New York City area in the past century as measured at a tidal gauge near Battery Park. (You asked about “coastlines” rising but I guess that’s just indicative of your substandard reading skills which lead you to narcisstic denialism)
      Are you one of those conspiracy theorists who thinks you’re so much cleverererer than the cleverest that you can’t be hoodwinked? So to fuel your self-image as one-in-the-know you push others down to catapult yourself up? I see. I’d love to hear your scientific theory as to how climate change could NOT occur given the acknowledged CO2 levels. Whats your theory? Are space-fairies siphoning it off to Pluto?

      • Speaking of narcissism, how about the conceit that humans can affect global temperature in any more than a trivial way? But hey, I’m sure you trust the EPA and the “scientists” the way you trust the IRS. Also, did you know that communism was “scientifically proven” to be the future? Science!!!

        Sea level is rising, but there’s no evidence the rate of rise has increased, and no evidence humans are causing any of the rise.

        You’re free to belong to an environmental religion that uses fake science, i.e., politics pretending to be science, to justify itself–just don’t force me to tithe for your church with my tax money and stunted economic progress and civilization.

        In any case, I’m fairly sure that “climate change” is now in it’s “tiptoe out” phase in which the various players look for ways to back out without appearing to have been corrupt asses.

    • you don’t need any sea rise to think you’re genius enough to build on the *already* and long designated flood and hurricane zones of nyc. hurricane zones = bad. signed, an idiot

      • More than half of the above post pertains to “climate change,” so I don’t think it’s unfair to attack the premise of the piece on this basis. Obviously, building in a flood plain may be a stupid idea, but did you need a study to know that?

  • $10,000 studios coming soon!

  • There’s obviously plenty of room in NYC for new/replacement housing, and not just along the water (which isn’t rising). But panic and dread is sexy.

    • Climate change is real. But I agree that plenty of room in NYC for new/replacement housing.

      • Climate change isn’t real; it’s a hoax designed to take your money, and stunt economic development–some day you’ll figure it out. And feel like a dupe.

        • GTFO with this idiocy. Of course its real. The question is only how responsible are we for it. I’ll roll with the vast, nay overwhelming majority of scientists on this one.

          • A majority of scientists not corrupted by $ or afraid of professional persecution do not believe humans are making the planet warmer in any significant way.

            Here’s how one knows they have been brainwashed on climate change: can you list even ten of the dozens of arguments advanced by the “skeptics” (an absurd term, but whatever…) to disprove AGW (I’ve already mentioned 1 or two, so lets say eight more)?

          • The only scientists corrupted by money are the ones on the oil companies’ payroll. Kinda hard to believe people actually buy into climate change denial, but I guess there’s a lot of suckers out there.

          • Really? Can you provide some proof of that? Lets be generous: there
            might be, maybe $300 million from your mythical “big oil” and “the Koch’s (right?) available to disprove “climate

            Incidentally, BP, and most if not all of the Evil Oil Companies are on the climate change bandwagon, lest they be penalized and shunned by Big Government in various ways.

            There’s probably $50-300 billion available from governments and foundations to “prove/support” “climate change.” So, why does, at most, $300 million corrupt, but $50-100 billion not corrupt? Can you explain that?

          • Is “GTFO” a scientific term? I am not familiar with it.

            It was getting warmer, and now it isn’t. It used to be much warmer (Middle Ages) and then colder (1700-1800’s) all without human CO2 emissions. “The only question is how responsible are we”? Yes, there is no “climate change” if we are not primarily responsible (and if warming will be significant and harmful), which “would” make all those EPA regs and attempts at taxing CO2 criminal–right?

            If we are only trivially responsible for warming, and/or there is no significant warming, it’s all a hoax, no?

            “If only there was some natural source for variations in the earth’s temperature. The source of such variation would have to be large, though: on an order of magnitude of our own Sun.”

          • were you the guy sitting next to me at the bar last night that wouldn’t stop?

            i’d rather be a dope…

          • No, it was not me. And I wish you would not be. Before it’s too late.

        • Yeah sure pal. Like walkuplife, I’ll go with the overwhelming majority of scientists as opposed to “ParisParamus.” Not hard to figure at all.

  • a mil by 2040? bogus projection tied to the fake economic reGOVery. train will wreck far before 2040. far before 2020. maybe even this year. look at japan right now.