Adams introduces zoning initiatives to help small biz, create housing

Measures hailed by businesses, city planners, nonprofits

June 2, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday laid out a plan to use the city’s zoning tools to support small businesses, create affordable housing and promote sustainability – part of his vision for New York to become a more inclusive “City of Yes.” 

The plan, announced at the Association for a Better New York breakfast, includes three major citywide amendments (Zoning for Economic Opportunity, Zoning for Housing Opportunity, and Zoning for Zero Carbon); an effort to invest in and plan around emerging job hubs and commercial corridors in all five boroughs – starting in the Bronx – and initiatives to cut red tape and center equity in planning.

“We are going to turn New York into a ‘City of Yes’ – yes in my backyard, yes on my block, yes in my neighborhood,” said Mayor Adams. “These proposals focused on economic recovery, affordable housing and sustainability will remove red tape for small businesses, expand housing opportunities in every neighborhood and accelerate the transition to our energy future.” 

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“Now that the historically discriminatory Cabaret Law was repealed, we applaud Mayor Adams for taking the next critical step to eliminate the dancing prohibition at so many of our city’s restaurants, bars and nightclubs,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director, New York City Hospitality Alliance. “This is not Footloose, and the city should not be telling businesses their customers can’t dance.”

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. Photo courtesy of NYC Hospitality Alliance

“The Building Congress’ number-one priorities for construction growth, as announced in our ‘100 Years: Policy’ report last month, call for streamlined approvals, more flexible zoning rules and elimination of obsolete zoning distinctions,” said Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO, New York Building Congress. “Mayor Adams is hitting it out of the park with today’s announcements.”

Carlo Scissura. Photo courtesy of Carlo Scissura

The first citywide text amendment – Zoning for Economic Opportunity – will provide local businesses with the flexibility to repurpose their space for a post-pandemic city. This amendment will:

  • Remove unnecessary geographic limitations on certain businesses, including life sciences, custom manufacturing, maker-retail and nightlife.

  • Eliminate obstacles to repurposing space, allowing the city’s businesses and economy to evolve over time.

  • Create flexibility for local businesses to expand without relocation and without triggering needs for additional parking.

The second citywide text amendment – Zoning for Housing Opportunity – will encourage the creation of more housing in neighborhoods across the entire city. This amendment will:

  • Expand opportunities for affordable and supportive homes for New Yorkers by increasing the floor area ratio for all types of affordable housing, similar to the allowance already afforded to affordable housing for seniors.

  • Broaden the acceptable variety of housing types and sizes, including studios, to accommodate a wider range of families and households. 

 

  • Ease conversions of underutilized commercial buildings into homes.

  • Reduce unnecessary parking requirements that add cost and take up space in buildings that could be used for additional homes.

 

The final citywide text amendment — Zoning for Zero Carbon — represents a critical step towards New York City reaching its carbon reduction goals. This amendment will:

  • Remove obstacles to deploying new clean energy storage and uses, including electric vehicle charging.

  • Facilitate building retrofits for sustainability, including allowing more rooftop coverage for solar panels.

  • Eliminate barriers to the electrification of building systems such as heat pumps or efficient HVAC systems.

 

Building on Mayor Adams’ years of work as Brooklyn borough president on a neighborhood development initiative along Atlantic Avenue in Crown Heights known as M-CROWN, the administration will work with the community there and communities across the city – as well as the City Council – to plan for neighborhood development, job creation and mixed-income housing.

Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City. Eagle file photo

In addition, Mayor Adams announced the Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Task Force (BLAST) – a coordinated effort across a dozen agencies to cut red tape, streamline processes and remove administrative burdens that are slowing down the city’s economic recovery. BLAST will speed up the city review process of private applications for new investments in neighborhoods across the city.

 “These citywide initiatives will help us significantly to create jobs, to promote a more sustainable city, and to deliver housing everywhere,” said New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick. “And what’s more, we are committed to making our land use process work faster and better as we deliver results.”

“The Adams administration is proposing a necessary update of our 1960s-era zoning code that will support New York’s transition to a digital economy and to a more livable and affordable city,” said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO, Partnership for New York City. “This is a critically important undertaking.”


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