Housing October 5, 2023

In the News: Will New Yorkers Move Into Homes With Shared Kitchens and Baths? (The New York Times)

Read the full story on The New York Times.


What if you lived in an apartment that did not have its own kitchen or bathroom?

A New York think tank called the 5Boro Institute says such apartments could put a dent in two crises the city is facing — the chronic shortage of housing and the surplus of office space in Manhattan. 5Boro maintains that empty office space could be turned into housing for “flexible co-living,” with communal kitchens and bathrooms.

5Boro argues in a new report that such conversions would cost less and could be completed faster than conventional office-to-residential conversions.

5Boro says there is just over 100 million square feet of available office space in Manhattan. That figure could grow as long-term leases go unrenewed — or as commercial tenants take less space, because remote work means fewer employees are going into the office.

5Boro’s report says that flexible co-living, a twist on co-living, or “dorms for adults,” could turn the empty space into apartments and surmount the architectural and regulatory problems that often stymie office-to-residential project. The group is calling for the city to set up a pilot conversion.

“Given the state of the housing crisis and the fact that New York is tied for first place in a global ranking of the most expensive cities in the world, we need to be trying new ideas,” said Grace Rauh, the executive director of 5Boro and an author of a new report about office-to-resident conversions. “We think not only is this doable, but we think this is a way to maximize the amount of housing that can be created through office-to-residential conversions and to minimize the costs, so rents for tenants can be much more affordable.”