The Historic Districts Council (HDC) is seeking to retain a research consultant to perform an economic analysis of New York City’s 110 designated historic districts in order to determine the affects of landmarking on affordable housing.  The consultant will conduct research that will include, but not limited to, statistics on rent regulated housing, indices of affordability in each historic district, any data shifts that have resulted in the increase, decrease or maintenance of affordable housing units, and changes in demographics and income levels within the historic district.  Selected non-designated districts will be assessed similarly for comparison.

Proposals are being accepted for undertaking the work described in this Request for Proposal (RFP).



HDC is the only organization in New York City that works directly with neighborhoods in all five boroughs on community-based preservation concerns. Our primary constituency is over 500 locally-based community groups dedicated to the protection and enhancement of their historic neighborhoods. HDC has been involved in the creation of almost all of the 110 officially designated historic districts in New York, which encompass 30,000 individual buildings or about 3% of the City’s building stock.  As the citywide leader for historic neighborhoods, we have organized residents, documented historic neighborhoods, given public testimony, worked with city agencies, and nurtured communities for over 40 years.

Since its formation, HDC has believed that the preservation and enhancement of New York City’s historic resources – its neighborhoods, buildings, parks and public spaces – are critical to the continued success of our metropolis. We believe that preservation of historic resources is an integral component in a diverse toolkit of civic processes, including zoning, access to open space, and quality affordable housing. HDC has had extensive feedback from community members across the boroughs that historic preservation is part and parcel of what has made and continues to make their neighborhoods more livable, safer, and prosperous.



Affordable housing and income inequality have emerged as major issues in the urban agenda, especially in New York City, the nation’s leader in average housing costs. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s response has been to set a goal of creating and preserving 200,000 affordable housing units over the next ten years.  This is a sharp increase from the previous administration.

During the 12 years of the Bloomberg administration, over 30 historic districts were designated resulting in more than 3,000 properties added to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s oversight. While this still only constitutes 3% of the total developable real estate in the city, historic districts are also among the most notable, renowned and desirable neighborhoods in New York. The Real Estate Board of New York has embarked on a campaign to draw a correlation between landmark designation and the loss of affordable housing in an attempt to weaken or perhaps even prevent further municipal preservation activity.  Preservationists and community activists feel that, like ensuring the availability of affordable housing, the preservation of our city’s built heritage is a crucial element in maintaining the continued livability, viability and success of our city. The question remains: how can these two worthwhile urban goals work best together?

HDC seeks to answer this question by examining this relationship through a major study and a white paper outlining the research findings.  Measurable data will be explored to find the connections between the creation and retention of affordable housing and the preservation of neighborhoods and buildings. It will further investigate the current interactions between existing municipal policies on historic preservation and affordable housing and suggest how their goals could potentially be better coordinated.

The primary goal of this study is to demonstrate, with evidence, how preservation of buildings and neighborhoods influences the cost of housing. Once complete, the study will be used to develop specific policy recommendations that ensure that affordable and regulated housing and the preservation of our built environment can work in unison to benefit the future of New York City.



The project itself will entail an economic analysis of New York City’s 110 designated historic districts. If 110 historic districts is determined too broad a research scope, HDC will work with the project consultant to identify a feasible amount of areas to research. However, HDC feels that this is a reasonable study boundary.  Affordable housing is a general term and can refer to rent stabilized and subsidized housing or simply areas of the city where middle- and low-income residents have found reasonable housing costs. In order to be able to properly identify and analyze the relevant data, the study will focus on New York City-designated historic districts and indices of affordability (using both city-regulated and federal guidelines). This will provide a wide geographic range as well as provide statistically significant demographics and census information.


The independent consultant will:

  • gather data on rent regulated properties and indices of affordability in each historic district,
  • assess how this data has shifted over time, resulting in the increase, decrease or maintenance of affordable housing units,
  • examine housing costs in selected neighboring non-designated areas to determine any possible correlations between housing prices immediately outside versus inside historic districts, and
  • examine changes in demographics and income levels within the designated historic district and the adjacent non-districted neighborhoods for comparison.

While the final format of the report can not be determined until all data is culled and analyzed, we anticipate that it will include:

  • basic explanations of the history and regulation of historic districts and the evolution of rent regulated housing in New York City,
  • an executive summary, to broaden the reach of the report, that highlights some of the chief points in a manner that is accessible to both the general public and community advocates,
  • a more detailed narrative for policy experts, government officials, and other decision makers, and
  • qualitative information, prepared by HDC, where appropriate to bolster content.
  • HDC may also work with the consultant to identify special case studies that could be highlighted in the report as examples of the findings

HDC staff and an independent Review Committee of diverse stakeholders will help guide and provide feedback, help formulate policy guidelines for further discussion, and spread the word about how the historic preservation and affordable housing movements can work together. The Review Committee will be engaged throughout the process, responding to the report’s findings and suggesting possible policy recommendations to be included. The message of the report, regardless of outcome, must remain optimistic and inclusive, proving the positive effect preservation has for all.



The study is contingent on grant funding. Notification will be in June 2014, and once announced, the study will be officially publicized through a press release so that all interested parties and the general public will be aware and involved from the beginning. As the study progresses, HDC will release interim findings and policy recommendations that come to light during the research phase. These can be used to begin conversations with elected officials and neighborhood stakeholders about landmarking’s affect on affordable housing and the benefits of preservation.


The study will be researched and written over twelve months.  The anticipated timeline is as follows:

  • June 2014-January 2015: Research Phase. Consultant culls data and HDC ensures completion in a timely fashion through bi-weekly conversations with consultant.
  • October-November 2014: HDC staff solicits anecdotal information from community groups to supplement the report with stories from the historic districts themselves.
  • February 2015: Draft report is submitted to HDC. HDC disseminates report to Review Committee for comment within three weeks.
  • March: Review Committee reports comments back to HDC.
  • March- April: Additional work may be commissioned during this time to address specific topics or issues that arose from the report or based on recommendations from the Review Committee.
  • March: summation of anticipated results  is released, including a condensed white paper, at annual HDC preservation conference.  Consultant reports on findings at the conference, and additional feedback solicited from attendees.
  • April-May: Final work may be commissioned based on Review Committee and HDC Conference response.
  • May: Final report announced through launch of press campaign.



The approved budget for this projects is $50,000:  $40,000 for six months phase work (June 2014-January 2015), $5,000 for additional phase work as needed (January-March 2015), and $5,000 final phase work as needed (April-May 2015).



HDC is looking for a consultant with expert credentials, proven ability to analyze existing data sets of New York City demographics and real estate characteristics and established relationships with City, State, and Federal agencies such as the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

All proposals should contain a cover letter summarizing the respondent’s understanding of the project, including the company name and address, and the name and contact information of the person authorized to represent the responding firm.  Respondents should outline previous experience and detail about experience in providing relevant services.



Please send proposals to  Proposals are due by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, May 27th.

This project is contingent on grant funding being secured.  Applicants will be notified in June.

Leave A Comment

Thanks for Visiting

The Historic Districts Council is the advocate for all of New York City's historic neighborhoods. HDC is the only organization in New York that works directly with people who care about our city's historic neighborhoods and buildings. We represent a constituency of over 500 local community organizations.

Contact Us

Historic District Council 232 East 11th Street New York NY 10003 Tel: 212-614-9107 Fax: 212-614-9127

Support HDC

Become a Friend of HDC! Consider donating to support our efforts.

Follow Us