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NYC at 10 Million: Transit and Land Use Proposals for Record Populations

NASA/Oleg Kononenko

In a new report, HOK’s Carl Galioto and Bill Kenworthey team with the New York Building Congress to examine the transit and land policy changes needed to sustain the city’s future growth.

nybc-report-cover-175More than 8.6 million people currently call New York City home. By 2040 that number is expected to exceed 9 million. Given its recent historical growth rate (adding 1.5 million people since 1980—equivalent to the current population of Philadelphia), New York will likely hit the population milestone of 10 million people soon after 2050. These new generations of New Yorkers will place even more strain on the city’s already stressed housing supply and transit systems.

In a new report titled Building the Future of New York: Transit and Land Use, HOK and the New York Building Congress explore the current state of the city’s transit network as well as its vacant and underutilized land. The report presents recommendations for accommodating record numbers of New Yorkers.

galioto-150“We cannot be planning for the current state,” said Carl Galioto, a coauthor of the report and HOK’s president and managing principal in New York. “This population is coming, and it’s time now for elected officials, developers and planners to start thinking about how we’ll house and connect people in an ever-growing city.”

Among the report’s findings is that New York City’s five boroughs have in excess of 7,200 acres of vacant land that combined would equal half the size of Manhattan. Additionally, much of the residential property located within walking distance of New York’s current and proposed mass transit is built far below permitted capacity.

Recommendations made in the report include zoning changes to provide denser mixed-use development near transit hubs and property tax surcharges to encourage vacant and underutilized land owners to develop and maximize the use of their properties. The report identifies multiple transportation improvements and expansions needed to connect and activate new and underdeveloped residential districts. Those proposals include unifying New York’s three commuter rail networks under one regional rail authority, developing a comprehensive light-rail system to reach underserved sections of the city and moving forward with plans to expand the subway.

kenworthey2-150“Transit is key,” said report coauthor Bill Kenworthey, HOK’s regional planning leader for the Northeastern U.S. and a former urban designer with the New York City Department of City Planning. “Having the land for residential development is one part of the story. But so is mobility. To be part of New York City, that land has to be accessible and have the appropriate transit connections for the scale of development.”

Download the full report Building the Future of New York: Transit and Land Use