Balancing Act

I bought an Indo Board not too long ago. For those of you scratching your head’s asking “What is an Indo Board?” I will tell you. Not surprisingly, it involves a small, flat board that rides on a sphere. Imagine a piece of plywood sitting on a bowling ball and you’ve got the picture. It is quite simple in design and, if used properly, can improve one’s balance. If used improperly, a trip to the hospital is not out of the question. Having been told on more than one occasion that I lack balance—on more levels than I care to admit—I began a workout regimen with the Indo.

While trying to avoid the need for an ambulance, I began to think about the need for balance in the real estate market. It seems the pendulum is either swinging towards boom times or, as it is now, bust. But a swing in the right direction is on the horizon, which is good. But we also need to be careful to not run right past the sweet spot of a solid market to another bubble burst.

Long Island’s housing market appears to be working on establishing some semblance of balance. I believe that most future developments will be of the multi-family variety based in part on changing tastes, but also to counter the decades-worth of additions to the single family side of the scale.

This is good as the housing market plays a key role in the health of the region’s economy. With available land growing scarce, housing costs, both direct and ancillary, remain daunting. Planning experts assert multi-family housing projects are absolutely necessary to maintain the quality of life and economic viability of the region. The hope is that affordability will be recognized through numbers; the more units per acre will diminish the impact of land costs.

There have been countless events where panelists have indicated the need for tens of thousands of units. To date, maybe a few thousand have been built. Despite the need, Long Island has been slow to shift the balance of residential development away from the single-family home.

Though often spoken of as the cure all, multi-family housing will not assuage utility costs, congestion or taxes. But achieving a greater balance of housing should make the region more attractive for young professionals and out of towners looking for a place to live who aren’t ready—or cannot afford—the white picket fence. And like Martha Stewart says, that would be a good thing.

As for my Indo Board, it continues to be put to good use. After several near misses, it is now performing well as a shoe rack in my closet. (For my previous columns about retrofitting, go to http://www.lipulse.com.)

conor bly

Conor Bly has been writing about Long Island for the past 14 years covering, well, pretty much everything, from automobiles to zoning regulations. When not writing, much of his time is occupied by looking for that elusive perfect house.