UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Though it feels like new developments are constantly shooting up on the Upper East Side, the neighborhood gained less housing in the past decade than almost any neighborhood in New York City, a new analysis found.
Since 2010, hundreds of existing apartments on the Upper East Side have been lost after developers knocked them down to construct new buildings, or after homeowners combined existing apartments to form bigger units, according to the study by the Department of City Planning.
Those losses nearly erased any housing gains the neighborhood has made. Since 2010, the net housing gain on the Upper East Side was just 278 units — the second-lowest total of any community district in the city.
The biggest driver of the Upper East Side's losses has been demolitions, followed by alterations, which, combined, almost eclipsed the more than 2,000 new units built in the neighborhood.
Those minimal gains come as the city faces what many observers consider a critical housing shortage. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who has pushed to build more affordable housing on the Upper East Side, said Tuesday he was "shocked by the numbers," which were first reported by THE CITY.
"Anyone who lives on the Upper East Side will tell you that there's been nonstop construction," he said.
But Kallos was unsurprised that demolitions have been a factor, citing the sparsely-populated luxury developments that have popped up around the neighborhood in recent years — often replacing cheaper, denser housing.
"We need a law that requires developers to replace any affordable housing that they displace as part of any new development," he suggested.
Other neighborhoods that saw significant housing losses since 2010 include the Upper West Side, the West Village and SoHo — similarly affluent areas where "unit losses significantly offset additions," the study found.
Meanwhile, huge housing gains occurred in transit-heavy, outer-borough neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, which were rezoned in 2005 to allow for more development.
The study was based on filings with the Department of Buildings starting Jan. 1, 2010 through June 1, 2020.
As THE CITY reported, the findings could embolden advocates who are pushing to rezone wealthier neighborhoods in order to build more housing. Under Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration, most rezonings have occurred in lower-income areas like East Harlem and Inwood, fueling fears that longtime residents would be displaced.